Since the first COVID-19 coronavirus case was confirmed, the U.S. healthcare system has been a crucial part of government initiatives to control the pandemic. Pushed to its limits, healthcare management has had to find ways to operate beyond capacity and with the greatest efficiency possible.
Lana Leone, Senior Marketing Manager, Healthcare Solutions, for Zebra Technologies, discusses healthcare management technologies that are providing value to hospitals during this unprecedented time and where software developers can find opportunities to help.
Has COVID-19 shown healthcare organizations that they need new or different healthcare management capabilities?
Leone: Healthcare management capabilities have always been a critical component of healthcare, but during times of pandemic outbreak, the need for rapid deployment of new protocols increases, requiring improved coordination and communication of clinical teams, as well as the need for positive patient identification.
Healthcare facilities should also consider implementing telehealth services, including video options, to improve communication between patients and physicians, while also reducing unnecessary hospital visits, which is crucial to limiting the spread of infectious diseases.
What are the most urgent healthcare management needs now?
Leone: Some of the most urgent needs right now include alternative care facilities, drive through testing sites, and the need for increasing laboratory throughput with speed and accuracy. These alternative sites are important for helping healthcare facilities and hospitals manage overflow and treat patients in a timely manner. With the addition of new care facilities and drive through sites, healthcare providers also need the right tools and solutions to treat and test patients. Purpose-built enterprise-grade mobile devices designed with medical-grade housing are more critical than ever. These devices can withstand repeated exposure to approved disinfectants, making it easier and safer for healthcare providers to quickly clean their devices before moving on to treat their next patient.
Other urgent needs focus on device cleaning protocols, streamlined clinical coordination and improved supply chain management. By establishing improved protocols now, and coordinating with local government agencies, healthcare facilities will find it easier to manage the increasing number of patients during times of pandemic. For example, there is a need for improved supply chain management to ensure each facility has visibility to necessary inventory, such as ventilators or personal protective equipment (PPE).
Which tech solutions can help meet those needs?
Leone: Technology solutions, such as wearable or handheld mobile devices that provide front-line clinicians with greater visibility, can help meet those needs. This increased visibility helps them not only recognize change in patient status or the need for care but also notifies the appropriate care team members in a timely manner. In today’s healthcare environment, this quick turnaround is critical to delivering the best care possible and ensuring improved patient outcomes.
Data connectivity and clinical communications from the front line are extremely important. We’re seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices to deliver the highest quality of care because of the visibility they provide to critical patient data through electronic health records (EHR) or patient monitoring applications. Mobile devices allow clinicians to capture information in real time and share this data with other colleagues to ensure timely decisions. Having these decision support tools enables providers to make safer and smarter decisions at the point of care. In today’s fast-paced care environment, providing healthcare workers with the technology they need to make safer and smarter decisions is of the utmost importance.
How can software developers help improve healthcare management?
Leone: Software developers have the opportunity now, more than ever, to help solve emerging, complex challenges. There is an immediate need for software that can help providers manage intake at drive-through testing sites and alternative care facilities while ensuring positive patient identification. Additionally, facilities need upgraded software to continuously improve their clinical mobility and interoperability as they support new sites and manage higher patient throughput. Purpose build healthcare devices combined with innovative software will continue to allow front line providers to focus on what always matters most – providing optimal patient care.