How COVID-19 forced some hospitals back to basics

The COVID-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on the ways that health systems addressed population health needs.   

Hospitals had to pivot with only a few days’ notice to respond to short-term patient needs, rather than focusing on long-term goals.

For many, that meant taking a back-to-basics approach, in terms of meeting immediate demands. 

In a HIMSS21 Global Conference Digital Session scheduled to air on Monday, Aug. 9, Tina Esposito, chief health information officer for Advocate Aurora Health, and Simita Mishra, population health and informatics leader for Northwell Health, will engage in a dialogue about how the pandemic challenged their organizations’ efforts – and how they reacted to those challenges.   

Overnight, says Mishra, Northwell’s innovative and creative projects all had to go on pause in order to prioritize patient health.   

And as the system ramped up initiatives such as its telehealth platform, she says, those changes needed to be communicated to Northwell’s tens of thousands employees.  

The same has been true at Advocate, says Esposito, with daily stand-ups necessary to ensure everyone was on the same page as the hospital moved quickly in a deeply uncertain time.   

That breakneck speed – coupled with strained resources – necessitated employing technology to help make everything as seamless as possible, the presenters say.   

They’ll go over tools such as Microsoft Teams, artificial intelligence chatbots, remote care devices and others that they used to manage patient care and try to keep staff members connected and informed. They’ll also address the new ways their organizations used their electronic health records.   

Of course, scalability was also an issue – as was the potential for widening the care divide amidst a pandemic that already disproportionately affected patients of color. The panelists will discuss the necessity of ensuring that digital health solutions will not replicate or worsen hurdles already experienced.  

During their session, Mishra and Esposito will explore the ways that putting some projects on the back burner affected long-term goals – and talk about their lessons learned for the future now that vaccinations are more widespread.  

Mishra and Esposito’s conversation will be part of a HIMSS21 Digital session, “Reasons for Hope.” It’s scheduled to air on Monday, Aug. 9, from 3:20 to 5:15 p.m. Read more about the HIMSS21 Digital program here.

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Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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