Hidden Weapons of Technology in the Coronavirus War

Not that long ago, COVID-19 seemed to be more of a virtual pandemic than a biological one. Toilet paper memes swarmed social media, and news reports revolved around death counts in faraway places. The closer the sick and dying have been to home, the more real the virus has become.

There is no industry for which the virus is more real than the doctors and nurses in our hospitals and clinics. Many are like soldiers, bravely fighting on the front lines. Others are just wringing their hands in the darkness, waiting for the enemy to arrive. Many patients have cancelled doctor visits and elective surgeries to avoid the virus, and that loss of revenue has been a severe blow to providers.

As KLAS watched the coronavirus walk the short road from a threat to a pandemic, we wondered what we could do for our soldiers. So naturally, we asked them. We discovered that doctors and administrators didn’t really know how to answer us. Either they were so overwhelmed by the threat that they could barely keep their heads above water or they hadn’t seen the enemy up close yet.

Then someone on our KLAS team suggested that we just ask the vendors what they could do to help. That was when the lightbulb turned on. We sent out hundreds of emails to our vendor connections. We expected maybe 40 vendors to respond. Instead, we got over 200 responses.

Issues Faced Before

It was then that we realized how dumb we had been. Our initial perspective had been too narrow; we had only been looking at the industry through a single lens—that of COVID-19. It turns out that the issues in healthcare surrounding the coronavirus aren’t entirely new. Hospitals have been overwhelmed by ER patients before. Healthcare organizations have struggled with issues like cost, efficiency, and infectious diseases before. And although telehealth is a relatively new industry, the market isn’t entirely unestablished.

Healthcare IT vendors may not have known exactly what they were getting ready for, but they have actually been preparing for this pandemic for years. And a lot of the help that vendors offer is easier to obtain than providers may realize.

How to Use the Report

Our report is long. We don’t expect providers to read the whole thing. We are just hoping that they will say, “We have an urgent problem. How can KLAS help me with that?” They’ll open up that report, scan through our table of contents (organized by market segment), and find easy answers to burning questions. We report on both IT and service vendors for telehealth, EMRs, patient intake management, analytics, assessments, and many others.

Vendor Support

I was delighted by how many vendors offered quick fixes often at no cost. Some can provide speedy implementations, while others merely offer to train healthcare organizations on functionality that may already be at their fingertips. Some providers merely need to increase their awareness of the power that may already be available to them.

One of the most impressive efforts we have seen has been the extension of current hospital beds into field hospitals. I had a call with one CEO of a major EHR vendor who talked about their extension efforts into multiple field hospitals. “This is a lot of money. We hope we don’t bankrupt ourselves," this CEO said, chuckling nervously, "But we just want to help, and we are grateful we are in a position to help.”

The creation of the COVID-19 Technology & Services Solutions Guide was a whirlwind effort to produce but the report is now available on our website free of charge. Want to find out what HIT resources are available to your organization? We invite you to click on the link above. If we can prevent one hospital from closing, one provider from being laid off, or most importantly, one person from dying of this ruthless illness, we will count our efforts worthwhile.




      Photo credit: svetazi