For healthcare providers, ensuring the patient experience is engaged, effective and safe has always been a goal.
The COVID-19 response has prompted digital transformation that, while occurring under tragic circumstances, is poised to significantly improve those objectives.
“I have never seen so much innovation in such a short period of time within the industry at the rate it has occurred,” said Allison Norfleet, global healthcare lead for industry solutions at Cisco, who spoke Wednesday at CDW’s latest Tech Talk.
The innovations are many. Within days of the pandemic’s arrival, providers ramped up telehealth services, insurers relaxed their coverage restrictions, mobile tools were deployed to support doctor-patient connections from a distance and healthcare systems improved digital platforms for critical (and convenient) outreach.
“What we’ve learned in the past few months is that medicine is medicine,” she added. “It can be practiced anywhere. We’ve been delivering care in parking lots, in parks, in convention centers.”
Still, hurdles existed before the pandemic. Norfleet cited 2019 data from Unisys that found nearly half of surveyed healthcare organizations cited three main barriers to digital transformation: clinician resistance, difficulties of integrating legacy systems and the risk of cybercrime.
WATCH: Dive deeper with the full CDW Tech Talk session on how healthcare has transformed.
Technology and Teamwork Reach Patients Anytime, Anywhere
Expanding services outside the walls of a hospital or clinic means leaders must continuously evaluate what’s working, Norfleet said in a session titled “Building Innovative Clinical and Patient Experiences to Address Today’s Healthcare Dynamic.”
As circumstances change by the day, Norfleet said, providers and IT teams should ask themselves questions: “What is that consumer need? How do we meet their demand and how do we retain our staff?”
A high-level view that evaluates how technologies and supporting infrastructure affect each step of the care journey — from initial contact with administrative teams (or digital chatbots) to aftercare with remote patient monitoring tools — can inform a game plan.
“We’re focused on innovation across the continuum of care,” Norfleet said. “It’s about leveraging multiple technologies underneath to create the frictionless experience that clinicians expect … leveraging collaboration, network capabilities and connectivity.”
Among them: A “digital front door” platform to help patients schedule appointments, receive virtual care and communicate with teams; seamless in-house experiences with kiosks and automated check-in; wayfinding and digital signage; and intelligent collaboration solutions that allow doctors to work and share information from anywhere.
Taken together, “technology is the enabler,” Norfleet said, “not only with the patient's first point of access into that health system but also to a successful outcome.”
Steps that enhance physical safety, she added, will be critical to recouping revenue lost as patients delayed or avoided care.
Keep Security at the Forefront When Improving Patient Experience
As innovations continue, robust protective measures are critical to maintain business continuity and avoid breaches that could draw fines and jeopardize lifesaving services.
“Everything we do for our customers is focused around security,” Norfleet said. “How do we wrap security around every initiative?”
Healthcare organizations — which are facing a rise in cyberthreats during COVID-19 — should deploy endpoint protection resources to protect a growing stable of Internet of Things and connected medical devices, perform risk assessments and necessary upgrades, and train all staff members to recognize signs of a cyberattack.
Pandemic or not, keeping data and devices are safe from harm supports a strong, scalable foundation to meet changing experiential demands.
Find BizTech's complete coverage of the CDW Tech Talk here.