We already knew that the healthcare system had a technology gap on the medico-administrative front, for example, due to the frequent use of fax machines and pagers.
But, the pandemic made it obvious that the processes in place don’t allow for a quick and effective reaction when facing a crisis. Some healthcare institutions found themselves powerless before the necessity to create an action plan(s) suited to the real and potential challenges relative to their available resources, and all of this because their medical offering was spread out over different computers, even on different pieces of paper.
Of all the medico-administrative deficiencies brought to light by the pandemic on the technological front, one of the greatest is the lack of cloud computing tools. The quantity of the information that needs to be transfer and centralize quickly is now just too big to be done manually.
Two Examples of Technological Proactivity
During the PetalMD workshop held at the last Health IT Symposium, our CEO, Patrice Gilbert, ceded the floor to healthcare managers, so that they could explain how they used our technology in new and innovative ways to better manage their medical staff during the ongoing crisis.
(French and English conference) Testimonials of Marjorie Pigeon, Administrative Director of Medical Services of Vitalité Health Network and Patty Aldrich, Executive Assistant, Medical Affairs, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital at the Colloque informatique santé 2020.
1. The Centralisation of COVID-19 Procedures within the Vitalité Health Network
The Vitalité network covers a large territory, with four regional hospitals and 65 service points located in the northern region of New Brunswick.
Recently the administrative director of medical services for the health network expressed the concerns she had at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic regarding the management of their COVID-19 units.
One of the concerns for Ms. Pigeon’s team was to know how to communicate information about the pandemic processes in the fastest and most accurate way possible to their entire network: care pathways, ambulance arrivals, treatment of patients suspected of having COVID-19, screening methods, and so forth. Everything had to be understood and adopted uniformly.
Accessing the Network’s intranet and email was an important challenge for the healthcare professionals that have limited or no access to a computer, a VPN connection or that does not have an ID. Seeing the challenges of using this tool during the pandemic, they created a documentation centre on PetalMD’s secure platform and then used our messaging tool to communicate among themselves. The administration could see how many people opened the daily bulletin, and then quickly redirect those who had questions to the right contact person.
At first doctors were reluctant to embrace the idea of using this new tool to communicate information other than their on-call shifts, but in the end, with the pandemic, they noticed a greater acceptance and more consultation of administrative communications. As a result the collaboration between the administration and the medical staff improved.
2. The Planning of Schedules in Times of Crisis at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital
The St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, located in Ontario, is a facility of 157 beds serving the city of St. Thomas and seven municipalities in the county of Elgin. More than 850 people work in the facility and more than 200 certified professionals (doctors, dentists, etc.) provide care there.
As a member of the PetalMD platform since 2015, the entire hospital benefits from a centralized on-call list that is digital and updated in real time for all of their medical departments. Quickly impacted by COVID-19, the hospital had no choice but to reorganize physician schedules to meet the demand for COVID-19 related care.
With phenomenal leadership, the Chief of Staff, added a COVID-19 group made up of doctors from multiple specialties in order to support the on-call medical team already in place.
The hospital also reorganized their COVID-19 tasks due to the addition of the COVID-19 screening centre located outside the hospital. Ms. Patty Aldrich, Executive Assistant - Medical Affairs, created a group of doctors (once again from different specialties), of which one or several on-call doctors would be assigned to the screening centre in case of emergency.
Ms. Aldrich insists that she saved invaluable time during the assignment and reassignment of resources thanks to the PetalMD platform. Especially as the platform was already in use before the first wave of COVID-19 cases. The changes were thus automatically updated for everyone (switchboard operators, doctors, chief of staffs, etc.) and accessible from any device, at all times.
A Giant Step
The health crisis has highlighted the medico-administrative deficiencies in our healthcare system, but it has also allowed us to take giant steps forward in terms of the adoption of technology. It has also allowed us to better understand the inevitable upcoming challenges facing the medico-administrative front.
The innovative technologies deployed during the pandemic are only the first step towards the healthcare facilities of tomorrow, which will use artificial intelligence to optimize the management of the medical offering and improve access to healthcare during future crises.