The healthcare system was severely tested by COVID-19 shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. It is clear that we were not ready to face this type of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
Fortunately, the flattening of the curve during the summer period has allowed health authorities, managers of healthcare facilities and health professionals to take a step back and reevaluate on their experience during this health crisis.
Several scenarios suggest that there is a possibility of a second wave, stronger than the first, this fall or winter. Others assume instead that there will be several consecutive waves, less strong, that can last for months or even years.
How can we avoid another overcrowded emergency room, inordinate overtime and burnout of health care professionals? What steps or initiatives are being taken to better deal with this situation?
Promote Technologies that Bloomed During the First Wave
The particular context of the first wave of the pandemic was an important motivator for accelerating digital transformation. Several sectors of the health system quickly adopted technological solutions to meet the major challenges that this virus represents for the health care community.
Here are some of the innovations that have experienced significant growth during this crisis:
- Telehealth solutions
- Screening and exposure notification applications on smartphones
- Real time statistical updates of new cases of infected patients
- Infrastructure and data hosted on the ‘Cloud’
- Cybersecurity protocols
- Research data exchange platforms
Adapt Working Methods to Newly Implemented Technologies
The pandemic and numerous innovations are disrupting the functioning of the health system. Many of the methods used need to be rethought to keep pace with new practices and requirements. Telemedicine, for example, requires amending the code of ethics, to assure compliance with the rules of confidentiality, and to foresee a technological infrastructure, which is efficient and secure at protecting patient data. To have a positive impact, each new technology must be implemented with new ways of doing things.
Draw Inspiration from the Practices Implanted by Medical Care Teams in Collaboration with Petal
During these recent events, several initiatives have had to be quickly adopted by the various medical teams, particularly those most affected, in order to try to respond the best way possible. In the middle of the first wave, the Petal team worked with the medical services by offering various solutions to support them.
Here are some of the measures taken by healthcare teams to better manage the crisis:
- Establish an on-call list of medical specialists, which has ensured that they are available at all times throughout a territory, to provide telephone counselling services to assist physicians called in as back-up during the crisis.
- Create a single on-call schedule that groups together several health professionals from different institutions in a health network to ensure that demand is met effectively.
- Plan the necessary medical resources in a specific on-call schedule to ensure that they are always available when needed.
- Develop different schedules for front-line professionals in advance according to the different possible scenarios announced by health authorities. Some of these schedules even included doctors from other departments in the event of very high demand.
- Implement a priority deployment of the Petal Hospital Platform. At the height of the crisis, the team of implementation specialists was mobilized to deploy in less than 48 hours a "light" version of the hospital platform enabling a healthcare institution to respond effectively during the pandemic.
- Set up the use of the Petal instant and secure messaging service. Healthcare professionals needed to communicate quickly with each other in order to better coordinate their efforts.
Centralize Medico-administrative Data with a SaaS Solution
In hospitals, in order to meet needs and provide the best care possible, managers must focus on harmonizing information systems. These systems must communicate with each other and be interoperable to optimize the coordination of care teams.
In addition to being highly efficient, SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions have many advantages. They centralize data and dematerialize processes using ‘Cloud’ computing infrastructure. This translates into reduced costs and less delay in treatment times. These solutions help ensure that the governance of the health system is shared and in making informed decisions.
Collaborate With Your SaaS Solution Provider to Develop New Features According to Specific Needs
Various features of the Petal platform have been developed on a priority basis upon the request of various medical teams to meet their immediate needs, such as the:
- Status of availability for quickly identifying:
- available medical resources,
- those workers already assigned to the pandemic or,
- that were unavailable due to a virus infection.
- Conversation group(s) dedicated to COVID-19 operations in the secure messaging solution;
- Task named "COVID-19" added to the medical services schedule, so that health professionals can be assigned to pandemic related activities at any time.
See also: COVID-19 | How Petal Can Help You Manage the Crisis
Despite the fact that to date preventive measures have been well respected by the population at large, containment rules are gradually being eased so that economic activities can resume. As long as information about the virus remains poorly understood and an effective vaccine is not yet available, there is a risk that the virus will circulate again and that a second wave is very possible. Nevertheless, the first wave has shown that it is possible to be better prepared for this global health crisis by taking advantage of digital technologies.
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