As healthcare organizations grapple with the myriad challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic — some successfully and some not as much — a few things have become clear.
One of those is the importance of quality data, which Cheryl Rodenfels believes has been a “mixed bag,” despite the critical role it can play in helping to navigate through difficult situations. “Organizations that can produce good analytics are able to manage their businesses more effectively.”
These organizations, she noted in a recent webinar, aren’t merely pulling individualized reports; they’re leveraging automation and analytics tools to help make decisions — to do the thinking for them. And in doing so, “they have the environment working on their behalf instead of having to continue to work harder on the environment.”
In a recent webinar, Rodenfels, CTO of Americas Healthcare with Nutanix, discussed project recovery strategies, along with Kishore Ravilla (CTO at OhioHealth) and Brad Garlock (Senior Director of IT and Security Officer with Gastro Health). The biggest hurdle, according to the panelists, is in determining which initiatives to restart, or accelerate, and to what scale. Not an easy task, particularly when budgets have been reallocated — or, in some cases, eliminated.
“There is no budget anymore,” said Ravilla. When the pandemic hit, OhioHealth “went back to the drawing board. Whatever was allocated for FY 2021 (which started July 1) was no longer applicable.”
The 12-hospital organization had to hit pause on plans for its data center modernization, and has pushed back its Epic quarterly upgrades by two quarters. The need became clear to “look at the spend,” and establish a mandate requiring all requests for capital funding to go through the board. “We’re revisiting everything,” he noted.
It was the same story across the board. At GastroHealth — which has expanded significantly in recent years, going from a Florida-based practice to a four-state organization — implementations came to halt, largely because of travel bans.
Patient care, however, did not, thanks to innovative strategies like GastroHealth Express, which enabled patients to undergo elective surgeries without entering the hospital. Not only did it allow the organization to stay viable from a financial perspective, but more importantly, it helped protect patients and staff while keeping more hospital beds available for emergency purposes.
And in the event of a resurgence, “it’s nice to know that we already have that playbook and we can roll it out immediately,” said Garlock. “We’ll be better prepared from a technology and business standpoint to react quicker, more efficiently, and more effectively.”
For OhioHealth, the biggest priority was to “double down” on virtual health, noted Ravilla. And telehealth is merely the beginning. While the organization, like many others, did dramatically accelerate its plans for remote care, the focus has also been on expanding other avenues of home monitoring.
According to Rodenfels, this type of thinking will prove pivotal going forward. “We need to think about how we can stabilize the telehealth environment,” particularly when services like Zoom and Teams have been added.
“You can’t do just enough when it comes to the remote environment,” she noted. “It has to be robust, and that might mean having to shift priorities.”
It also means rethinking concepts like brick and mortar offices, which have long been a staple in healthcare. OhioHealth, for example, is looking to reduce real estate investments, and instead is working toward a digital-first philosophy. A key component in that, not surprisingly, is building out a solid analytics platform and being able to generate quality data.
“Dependency on technology is going to continue to increase, and we need to be prepared for that,” said Ravilla.
Garlock concurred, adding that, wherever possible, leaders must continue to expand technologies that are key to business continuity. Some examples include Nutanix’s VDI solution, which GastroHealth recently piloted to enable virtual desktop access; and Microsoft Teams’ Smartsheet offering, which allows for collaboration without being face to face.
“You need to have plans in motion so when something like this happens, you’re able to respond,” he said.
To view the archive of this webinar — Project Recovery Strategies for a Post Covid-19 World (Sponsored by Nutanix) — please click here.