Roundtable: How Health IT Teams Are Fighting the Pandemic
As a global pandemic puts clinicians to the ultimate test, healthcare IT teams also face numerous related challenges to ensuring business continuity and patient care.
Among their critical tasks: addressing a surge in telehealth demand, equipping outdoor tents and screening stations, and provisioning devices for thousands of employees to work safely from home via virtual networks.
The fight against COVID-19, leaders say, has brought out the quick thinking and compassion that has always been at the heart of healthcare IT — qualities that are in high demand as organizational needs and workflows change by the minute.
“We are all aligned to work together for the patient and the provider,” says John Kravitz, CIO at Geisinger. “This has always been our top priority.”
HealthTech recently spoke with Kravitz and other leaders on the front lines: Dr. Neal Patel, CIO of health IT at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Dwight Raum, vice president and CTO at Johns Hopkins Medicine; and Jeffrey Thomas, vice president and CTO at Sentara Healthcare.
Each spoke about planning, pivots and best practices during a complex time, and how current arrangements may influence future care delivery.
HEALTHTECH: How crucial are healthcare IT teams right now?
RAUM: We’re physically changing how our hospitals are working. As we move people around, our teams are shifting huge amounts of hardware, networking and telecommunications infrastructure. There’s a tremendous amount of transition going on as this unravels. IT teams must be committed to supporting that change, wherever it is.
KRAVITZ: Our staff is supporting the organization all over, setting up these tents for screening or treatment; they’re like a MASH unit. They’ve got all the IT equipment; we run fiber optic cables in and out and those tents. We put all the equipment in there, even medication dispensing machines, the lab label printers, stuff like that. It’s commonplace for us now.
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