The American Hospital Association (AHA) and AVIA are reaching out to all AHA members with a new tool for rapid, critical support to deal with COVID-19. The nationwide roll out of the COVID-19 Digital Response Pulse to all 5,000 members of the AHA provides a free online tool that allows hospitals and health systems to immediately assess critical digital capabilities they will need to meet the challenges of COVID-19 over the weeks and months ahead, and links directly to further information about how members can access and implement the solutions they select.
Members face immediate challenges to stand up a virtual approach for screening, testing, triage, primary care, and specialty care for worried, anxious patients in their communities – all to avoid being at the hospital unless absolutely necessary. These solutions need to leverage scarce clinician resources and build trust and confidence in doing so.
The COVID-19 Pulse shows members where they have gaps in these capabilities and offers specific steps that can be taken now to prevent the spread of the virus, allocate resources, care for the sick, and protect clinicians.
“We don’t have in-house experts and large teams to figure all this out, and we all wear so many hats, so we need partners to help us,” said Liz Dean, executive director of strategy and business development at Riverwood Healthcare in Aitkin, Minnesota. “The COVID-19 Pulse helped us quickly identify virtual health solutions. We gained insights on best practices, resources and reassurance that we were on the right track. Because we used this tool, we were able to implement virtual solutions very quickly and efficiently.”
The AHA formed a strategic alliance in October 2019 with AVIA, the leading digital transformation partner for healthcare organizations across the country. Since then, AHA and AVIA have worked together to create tools that help the industry accelerate digital transformation. The COVID-19 Pulse is an important and timely development for AHA members and their communities and is accessible for any healthcare organization with an AHA member account.
The COVID-19 Pulse contains a framework of 13 critical capabilities identified by AVIA and its Network members, including screening and triage, remote workforce, and addressing social needs for COVID-19, that can effectively be supported by high-value digital solutions. Upon completion, hospitals and health systems receive aggregated data-driven insights into how their organization compares to peers that are also responding to COVID-19. This information will also jumpstart new connections across the AVIA Network, so that hospitals and health systems can share emerging best practices and foster real-time learning.
“In this moment of crisis, there is so much noise when health systems need focus and clarity. The COVID-19 Pulse allows our 5,000 members to identify where they can take rapid action on the front lines to best serve their communities,” said Andy Shin, COO AHA Center for Health Innovation. “In partnership with AVIA, we can allow health systems and hospitals across the country to leverage their existing tools for COVID-19 response and rapidly implement new ones.”
“AVIA was founded on the idea that digital is imperative to catalyze meaningful and quick benefits for healthcare,” said Bruce Brandes, General Manager, Digital & Partner Network at AVIA. “We can move faster if we work together, especially during this crisis. The COVID-19 Pulse powers up knowledge sharing and collaboration needed to simplify and scale care across the country during such a critical time in healthcare.”
Response from Oliver Lignell, vice president, virtual health, AVIA
Providers have a new tool to help them combat COVID-19: digital. Health systems are proactively leveraging digital assets to help triage, navigate, and treat cases in ways that address concerns and also reduce the spread of the virus to other patients and providers.
Virtual assistants and chatbots can help consumers explore symptoms, accurately triage their needs, and navigate them to the appropriate site of care. These solutions can both reduce consumer worries and potentially inappropriate use of EDs and urgent care clinics.
Virtual visits are another critical digital tool because they allow patients to complete a visit from the safety and comfort of their home without exposing them to crowded and potentially infectious clinical locations and, just as importantly, reduces wait times and crowds at in-person care sites.
Asynchronous virtual visits (store and forward, text/chat) can also be an important (and low-cost) solution. Consumers can initiate a low acuity visit on-demand, when convenient, ensuring their concerns are addressed when desired – with the added benefit of decreasing wait times, creating a more efficient patient flow, and freeing up provider capacity. Such solutions further reduce the pressure on health systems while improving the responsiveness to patients.
Response from Andrea Tait, vice president of Client Value, Orion Health
Digital tools can play a key role as healthcare providers across the globe struggle to maintain the health of their workforce and the capacity of their organizations. Pandemic response is best supported through triaging, testing and treating the affected. Tools like public-facing screeners, pandemic information sites and chatbots can help evaluate millions of people with little to no clinician support.
By triaging individuals, tools like remote patient monitoring and telehealth can be used to monitor patients from their homes and assure others that sheltering in place is sufficient. Remote monitoring tools allow clinicians to monitor more patients and make decisions about who may require testing. Designated testing sites minimize the need for direct interaction between healthcare providers and patients, preserving both the health and capacity of health service providers.
Integrated care pathways and telehealth tools can help clinicians treat more patients at home and discharge those in hospitals who may be safer receiving treatment for other conditions remotely, all while minimizing their own risk. Home and community delivered care is an increasingly essential component of healthcare system sustainability. Now, more than ever, these tools and strategies are fundamental to the future of the healthcare system.
Digital solutions can be employed in seemingly non-traditional ways to both prepare and respond to the impact of the coronavirus. For healthcare organizations, traditional pre-access telephone dialing metrics can be modified. Hospital registration staff, in addition to financial guidance and scheduling, can screen patients for COVID-19 and obtain additional clinical information in advance of arrival.
By identifying potentially infected patients, even before they enter the hospital, hospitals and clinics are able to communicate effectively within the facility and plan for appropriate patient care, monitor and manage potential for healthcare personnel COVID-19 exposure, and inhibit the spread of the disease both within the facility and community.
Equally important and sometimes forgotten, back-end services provided by both hospital staff and revenue cycle vendors yields the same patient communication opportunities. Discharged patient follow up and screening post-discharge keeps the patients connected and engaged with the hospital as well as preserves an open communication line between the hospital and discharged patient.
Response from Matthew A. Michela, president and CEO, Life Image
The coronavirus has manifested the importance of digital solutions and interoperability in a heightened way. The lack of digital connections to community referral sites will impact the safety of patients and healthcare staff. It is imperative during this public health crisis that attending healthcare workers have as much relevant clinical data in advance as possible through digital connections.
Unfortunately, many healthcare organizations are still deploying outdated technology, such as imaging CDs, and the last thing a provider or hospital should want is a patient who is symptomatic or potentially a carrier of a virus to show up with a CD in hand. This presents a problem on multiple levels, from the lack of care coordination to the risk of disease spread.
The technology is available and many large health systems are set up to support digital exchange, so they need to mandate protocols to exchange information in this manner. In the same way that the public is asked to wash their hands and frontline workers are urged to wear masks, healthcare professionals should insist that medical data is received digitally for fast, efficient care.
As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for hospital organizations to ensure information is delivered in real time, accurately, and highly customized to the intended audience (patients, visitors, clinicians, etc.). It can be beneficial for hospitals to automatically deliver COVID-19 patient education videos tailored for each patient’s demographics, language, and clinical circumstances.
This also includes educational content and notifications (visitor restrictions, live updates, social distancing practices, etc.) on digital signage locations in public areas throughout hospitals. That content can be delivered in notifications or in response to Real-Time Location System (RTLS) triggers (for example, if a clinician enters the room, the patient’s TV will display hand washing reminders).
RTLS integration can also track and report staff entries into patient rooms so hospital leaders have real-time data about potential exposures, isolation violations, or interactions with non-approved staff. Interactive surveys with branch logic can help guide patients to provide vital feedback and report any hand hygiene breaches. Digital meal ordering, service requests, and virtual visits decrease human-to-human contact while helping patients get the food, care, services, and items they need. Live streaming (either soothing content like an aquarium or information sources) can also provide distraction therapy and education for patients in isolation.