One of the most interesting topics that has surfaced in recent weeks — and particularly in recent days, with the cancellation of HIMSS20 — is the role healthcare IT leaders play in the midst of health scares such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
Below are some of my thoughts:
- Help identify the virus originator. Modify questionnaire in the EMR to identify potentially infected patients that visited your facility with the COVID-19 symptoms. Speed is the key based on lessons learned from other countries — how quickly can you identify the root before it potentially spreads to others?
- Leverage telemedicine. Set up mobile solutions, whether it is a computer on wheels or other form factors in the ER area. Lead and guide the organization operationally to fast-track to the virtual world.
- Lead the data collection effort. CIOs can utilize their team members to lead the data collection effort by partnering with the hospital’s infectious disease leader to coordinate the transmission of relevant data to the CDC.
- Utilize hand hygiene metrics. We collect the hand hygiene metrics for Joint Commission, it is now time to put those metrics in use daily. While this may not be the CIO’s role, it is an item to highlight.
- Treat this as a downtime. Communication during this stage should be the same as system downtime. CIOs must ensure that communications tools are available and easy to use. Think like a marketer and offer the organization an omni-channel experience. Utilize email, messaging, text, social, and other digital channels.
- ERP is crucial. The ERP system plays a vital role currently while the organization is increasing its par levels to prepare for an increase in patient volume. The CIO should work closely the supply chain department to optimize any last-minute system configurations to meet the expectation. Electronic data exchange with the manufacture will also be crucial to ensure that supplies are available, and we must use technology to communicate and track inventory. Organizations should think creatively for alternative solutions because we expect the manufacture to run out of essential supplies if an outbreak occurs.
- Optimize your remote access solution. How is your remote access environment such as VDI or VPN? The system must be functional in a secure matter, as we will start to see a transition where healthcare providers may accommodate a remote workforce.
- Clinical scheduling system. I am assuming that most organizations have a time and attendance system for workforce scheduling. Employees should have access to request time off from anywhere at any time.
- Prepare the contact center operation. Patient engagement is crucial during this time. Prepare the contact center since they are the first line of contact for appointment scheduling with the patient. CIOs must ensure that their contact center system has the relevant integration so that the agent can provide the most up to date information for a patient.
- Patient portal communication may pick up. CIOs should expect a potential uptick on the patient portal usage. I encourage CIOs to monitor the portal and ensure that it is functional while providing an IT staff that is available for support.
This piece was written by David Chou, a digital transformation consultant and longtime advocate for leveraging technology as a competitive advantage. Currently serving as CIO at Luye Medical Group, Chou has held leadership roles with several organizations, including University of Mississippi Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and most recently, Children’s Mercy Hospital. To follow him on Twitter, click here.