This Q&A with Robin Cavanaugh, CTO of GetWellNetwork discusses some of the pressing challenges that still face Healthcare in the face of COVID-19, technologies that can support those, and how industry can get involved.
As the Healthcare industry continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, what are some of the most pressing issues that still need to be addressed to help mitigate widespread panic?
Unfortunately, during times of crisis, there tends to be a lot of shared misinformation, which can cause unwarranted levels of anxiety amongst consumers. This lack of education around COVID-19 has the potential to create mass panic, as many patients are unsure of how to properly reduce risks, manage potential symptoms and know when to seek treatment.
With many hospitals and health systems seeing rising numbers of patients seeking care, guidance for consumers is key. This helps manage the mass panic, educating the general public and reducing potential exposure to the virus. It is crucial that hospitals and Healthcare systems understand the need to empower patients to take charge of their Healthcare journey by learning to recognize the symptoms of the virus. Organizations can do this by providing patients with the latest guidelines from the most reputable Government-based Healthcare organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
To ensure that clinicians can effectively relay correct and up-to-date treatment plans to patients, systems that allow hospitals to scale communication efforts by using systemwide video- or text-based broadcasts to help counter misinformation are valuable. Omnichannel solutions enable clinicians to consult with other medical professionals to discuss the virus, while also communicating with quarantined patients via in-room video-conferencing capabilities, regardless of their locations.
With hospitals treating an influx of patients, how can they leverage digital technology to help alleviate strain and provide more personalized care for patients?
As hospitals and health systems across the country are working hard to manage and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, proper education, real-time patient monitoring and effective triage processes are all vital aspects of fighting the pandemic. Only by working together and leveraging the most innovative technology will our Healthcare system be able to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.
With the number of total COVID-19 cases in the United States reaching close to 600,000, our Healthcare system is overburdened, and an increasing number of patients seek care every day. However, there are certain technology-based solutions that can help alleviate the strain. Due to the characteristics of the virus, some mild cases can be treated at home, while patients are in quarantine. This not only frees up hospital beds for the most severe cases, but also helps to mitigate further transmission.
With the help of remote patient monitoring (RPM) and self-management tools, as well as digital communication offerings, clinical teams can remotely monitor patients with COVID-19 symptoms at home. In addition, they can send credible information and provide personalized care to help patients better understand how to self-manage and self-monitor their specific symptoms. Further, by closely monitoring patients’ symptoms, technology can analyze patient data and send automated digital notifications to care teams, signaling if a patient’s clinical status has escalated to a point requiring direct intervention.
In times of crisis, how are hospitals and health systems leaning on technology to alleviate administrative burdens and streamline workflows?
As a growing number of people flock to emergency departments and their providers’ offices with potential symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important that clinical teams are as efficient as possible and free of administrative burdens, which may take away from providing patient care. To achieve this, there are certain technologies that are focused on streamlining workflows and giving providers more time to focus on their patients. This includes patient self-management tools, telehealth solutions and real-time communication platforms.
In addition, broader patient engagement tools are providing unique features that allow patients to handle certain in-room and on-demand requests on their own, including ordering meals and placing pharmacy requests. In this time of crisis, it’s important that hospitals and health systems lean on technology to continue to provide the best, personalized care, while also enabling patients to help minimize staff exposure and free up overburdened staff to prioritize clinical needs.
How can technology help slow the spread of the virus to flatten the curve? How can the Healthcare industry collaborate with Government agencies, as we continue to fight this pandemic in the coming months?
To avoid placing even more pressure on an already stressed Healthcare system, organizations that can manage the health of populations efficiently and cost-effectively, providing education, assessments, predictions and interventions, will be better positioned for long-term resilience. In fact, a recent CDC report found that COVID-19 can be spread as early as 1-3 days before the onset of symptoms, which is another proof point of how important it is that patients remain at home in quarantine. While it is a scary statistic, the good news is that with collaboration between Healthcare providers and Government agencies, flattening the curve might be closer than we realize.
Healthcare organizations partnering with Government agencies, including the CDC and WHO, allow for consistent messaging across the country, ensuring that the same care is being delivered in hospitals and health systems. This also ensures patients are tracking for the same symptoms because treatment should not vary depending on location. If patients are following the standard, accurate information from Government agencies, this should expedite the process of flattening the curve across the country.
GetWellNetwork is a digital health company based in Bethesda, Maryland. Its solutions engage patients and families, empower clinicians and deliver outcomes that matter. From inpatient to outpatient, to physician practices and urgent care clinics, to patients on the go, the company offers the only cross-continuum platform that performs across every care setting. GetWellNetwork’s latest solutions, GetWell Loop & GetWell Inpatient, are helping health systems monitor patients at home, triage patients and avoid overburdening hospital staff, while offering up-to-date guidelines from the CDC and WHO to provide virtual patient support and help counter misinformation.
About Robin Cavanaugh
Robin Cavanaugh is the Chief Technology Officer for GetWellNetwork, where he drives innovation and technology strategy. A company veteran of nearly 20 years, his vision and expertise have been integral in the company’s evolution to become one of the leaders in patient engagement technology. Robin’s experience includes technology solution deployments at large organizations such as General Electric and Monsanto, as well as at several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Mental Health Services.