Immune to IT’s charms, digital healthcare gets an unwelcome boost.
Every crisis is a challenge as well as an opportunity. It has always been the case for healthcare. Right now, the case for hospitals and care centers to go digital has never been stronger.
In the IT industry, it only takes weeks to months to jump and move into action when there’s a glimpse of technology that could potentially disrupt the way things work. Small, incremental improvements are often enough to elicit a quick decision to adopt a particular app or system into an existing process. Winning the business battle in today’s economy often begins in the front-ends and back-ends but like the rest of the other verticals, healthcare executives still suffer from cold-feet about this.
Until COVID 19 happened.
Within a month, care providers and institutions have realized that fighting the pandemic requires equipping the workforce with digital cover. At Geisinger, these digital efforts were organized in three areas:
- Communicating information to prevent future infections;
- Leveraging technology to advance clinical protocols; and
- Shifting the majority of the workforce to telecommuting.
Information about the COVID 19 virus was unfolding by the day requiring that communication platforms and channels were kept running smoothly to provide timely and updated guidance into managing the disease as an institution.
Corollary to this is the rise of contact-tracing apps aimed at preventing the spread of infection. Hospitals can rely on this app to protect both staff and family visitors who need to be with the patients. Aside from being an effective monitoring tool for persons that were at a given location, these digital apps limit the need for in-person touchpoints which reduce the risk of contagion.
Information resources about COVID 19 are just as essential when news about treatment reaches both the medical community and the public at roughly the same time. Note however that in the practice of medicine, the job of separating facts from fiction passes through stringent medical research which is most likely under the greatest pressure it has ever been.
Simply combing through research papers about COVID 19 wouldn’t work in this hectic scenario. Ensuring that doctors, nurses, and the entire hospital team operate using updated and guided protocols at the point of care requires implementing and integrating decision support resources into hospital systems to reduce the variability of care.
The use of virtual teams and telemedicine has never been so important to keep a semblance of a patient-doctor relationship amidst social distancing. Infrastructure teams perform important work in keeping networks running and secure at all times. Software teams are scrambling to improve apps that allow full patient experience done virtually from home including appointments, video consultation, payment, and remote monitoring which benefits the doctors and hospitals as well.
By reducing the need to meet personally, the need for doctors and hospital staff to be onsite is also minimized and this keeps them safe as well. For hospital IT teams, the use of web-based frameworks allows them to monitor, update, and perform fixes for hospital systems offsite which reduce crowding the premises as well.
We are nowhere near the end of the pandemic as all businesses, including healthcare have been greatly affected by COVID 19. Whether hospitals will continue with a ‘patch and resolve’, segmented, and siloed IT approach or incorporate all this into a comprehensive and cohesive strategy remains to be seen. Regardless, the benefits of adopting a digital approach will continue to reveal itself. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another global pandemic to enforce this realization.
Check out our healthcare product, MEDCURIAL, and see how it helped some of the biggest hospitals in the country provide better patient outcomes.