Pandemic Performance Part II – Healthcare Technology

This blog is a continuation of our conversation about the findings of our Vendor Performance in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis report. In part I, we discussed the incredible responses of healthcare IT vendors stepping up to the occasion during this pandemic.

This blog will consider the larger technological ramifications the healthcare industry faces due to the unique circumstances of COVID-19.

The Missing String

When I think of how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare to adapt over the past months, it reminds me of playing the guitar.

I have a friend who is a fantastic guitarist. One of the best things he ever did while learning to play was removing a string to practice songs. At first, playing a song with the missing string seemed impossible. But with a lot of practice, my friend learned new fingerings that would produce the same notes he needed to play the songs.

He realized that playing with a string missing helped him to be more creative and come up with more ways to accomplish the same goal. And once he put the missing string back on his guitar, he was a stronger musician and guitarist.

With patients not coming into facilities to see clinicians as they used to, it feels like we’re missing a string from our guitar. But the healthcare industry is adapting new technologies faster than they ever have before to get the job done in a different way.

A Technological Watershed

COVID-19 has made us realize that we can do things we thought we could never do, and we are doing great with those things. When we are at a point where we can combine how we did things before with what we have discovered, we will have transformed healthcare as we know it.

Before the pandemic, no one on this planet would argue that we were utilizing telehealth to its full potential. But now, forced into this situation, we are realizing that we could do so much more.

Telehealth isn’t the only healthcare area laid bare by COVID-19. I think provider organizations have seen that they aren’t so strong in analytics in terms of understanding their patient populations. Being able to report supply needs to the government was mainly happening through email and spreadsheets. There’s a lot of interoperability, remote patient monitoring, and general EHR functionality that we are not utilizing, which is keeping healthcare from rising to its full potential.

Now, beginning with telehealth, the healthcare industry will not be content to underutilize the resources at our disposal. And when we see that the rest of the industry is about to rise to its potential, we will realize that we are going to get left behind if we don’t make this technology turn as well.

I see this as a watershed moment for healthcare. Everything is changing, and if we don’t take leaps and bounds, we’re going to find ourselves left behind and in a really tough position.

Prove Your Platform

Over the past six months, we’ve been able to look back at some of the quick fixes implemented practically overnight at the beginning of the pandemic. It turns out that the quickest solution to implement isn’t always the best long-term solution.

Many virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom’s and Doxy.me’s tools, saw a huge increase in healthcare use as telehealth became broadly adopted. Vendors like Zoom have been doing their best to prove to providers in the short term that they have viable long-term solutions.

From the providers we have reached out to, we’re getting feedback in both directions. Some organizations are planning on continuing to work with their quick stopgap platform and are impressed by the user interface and positive patient reactions. Other organizations realize that they require much more from their platform in terms of interoperability and full integration to their workflows.

Looking forward, we can expect to see some vendors develop full-suite virtual care and mobile patient monitoring platforms. Some platforms will remain as just a way to conduct virtual visits. But it will be cool to see how some vendors incorporate more patient engagement and integrate patient portals, scheduling, and so on.

Put Your Money Where Your Tech Is

We have seen this technological push forward reflected in the projected budgets of the organizations that we surveyed while gathering research for our report.

level of budget cutbacks implemented 

As you can see in the chart to the left, the majority of provider organizations are having to cut back on their budgets during this time. But the chart on the right provides an important view into how these organizations will prioritize the resources they have. Practically three quarters of these providers are all intending to invest more in healthcare technology.

Just like with every other economic sector, the way we will do business in healthcare in 2021 will not be the same way we did it in 2019. Despite circumstances being less than ideal, we’ve come to realize that the technologies we’ve been forced to deal with during the pandemic actually make our work better. But the only way to make this technological progress actually have a long-term effect is to continue to invest in it, and that’s the reaction we are seeing.

Healthcare’s New Normal

We still have a lot of learning to do, but the advancements we are seeing technologically will change the way we work in healthcare forever. And we will be stronger because of it.

Be sure to check out our full report for more information on telehealth platforms being implemented now.


     Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, Rostislav Sedlacek