Healthcare CIOs & Post COVID-19 Operations

By Rebecca Jones | April 27, 2020

The COVID-19 curve may finally be flattening, and as clinical operations slowly begin to take on some semblance of normality, health care organizations are looking to increase their care volumes and revenues after delaying non-essential admissions, elective procedures and in-person visits.

Net, net…the good news is that your clinical teams have weathered the worst of the COVID-19 storm and are looking forward to the next steps in reenergizing your enterprise. The first step is the need to address the short-term issue of delivering more care in a physically-distanced world. Soon after, you must turn your attention to preparing for the surge in the demand for PCP visits, specialty visits, elective surgeries and other non-COVID-related admissions.

As health systems begin to restart care in the new normal – how can CIO’s assist in ensuring the operational ramp up is as quick and efficient as possible? How can technology be applied to the patient and care coordination and delivery experience in the new normal? What short- and mid-term IT investments are worth putting time and energy behind?

IT Investment Requirements for Telemedicine and Future Success

In a post COVID-19 world, consumers will continue to expect an improved patient experience, the only difference being they will expect it via telemedicine. The better the patient experience at finding the right provider with the right expertise that takes their health plan and offers telemedicine…the faster your business will recover. So, focusing on expanding telemedicine services, as well as other services that support virtual care and communication – chatbots, virtual assistants, and mobile apps – are obvious areas of short-term focus.

To launch telemedicine effectively, you’ll need:

  1. The capability to identify and manage providers accepting telemedicine patients

  2. make it easier for patients to search and find those providers, and

  3. update operational systems (marketing, clinical, and financial) with which providers are participating, and other provider data to run smoothly.

For #1 – a central repository or platform that lets you easily update provider profiles to indicate that they are offering telemedicine, as well as any instructions to conduct an e-visit with that provider – is needed.

For #2 – you’ll need to update provider profiles that are searchable by consumers, referring staff, and call center teams to include telemedicine and COVID-19 terms.

For #3 – you’re likely adding providers to your telemedicine service daily and need any changes to be reflected across all your systems and sites in real-time – EHR, scheduling, patient access, call center, referral management, ACO and clinical network operations, and claims systems, to name a few. That’s a lot of data management to perform and share without automation and integration.

Take the need for updating these critical systems above with provider telemedicine participation status, which requires daily updates…as well as determining and sharing which payors’ plans are reimbursing for telemedicine visits, and how and when. Without the above systems getting these updates, inefficiencies and errors in choosing, scheduling, referring to, keeping in network, and billing for a provider’s telemedicine services will multiply rapidly. Being able to update a provider once and have the entire hospital or health system be updated in near real-time is essential.

Improving Health System Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness

All of the above requirements would be addressed by a single, centralized provider data platform, to house and curate telemedicine-related provider data to ensure telemedicine provider rosters, consumer search, and operations of essential clinical, marketing and claims systems have accurate telemedicine-related provider data. Additionally, such a platform should offer scalability to grow with you, a sense of security in provider data accuracy to ensure industry regulations are met and flexibility.

Furthermore, should there ever be sudden change in business strategy – such as a need to further accelerate telemedicine, or grow a particular line of service by recruiting providers or purchasing practices or hospitals – a central, trusted provider data platform will support this pivot, enabling all critical workflows to maintain efficiency.

As you begin the transformation from a COVID-19 centered healthcare to a post COVID-19 healthcare world, achieving success throughout the journey requires accurate provider data at each step.