By Jonathan Langer, co-founder and CEO, Medigate.
Heading into the backend of 2020, we’re witnessing radical change at each level of the healthcare system. Beyond the dedicated amount of care and attention given to each coronavirus-positive patient, tight budgets and limited resources create new challenges each day.
From the frontline caregivers to CTOs to vendor partners, COVID-19 has forced all parties to reevaluate how to best strategize and deliver world-leading treatments in the face of a global pandemic – not an easy task.
When reflecting on lessons learned from the pandemic (and looking forward) – a major priority that stands out is the need to better organize and unite the different departments, or “personas”, existing in the hospital, namely the C-suite, biomed / clinical engineering and IT.
While these departments are often forced to collaborate by crises, too often does the segmented nature of the health system result in siloed operations, i.e. ones where the departments rarely interact with each other. Each of these departments have their own specific requirements and objectives and, if there is an overlap, then there can be a struggle over whose priority is more essential.
While this hierarchy worked in pre-COVID times, it’s now clear that the challenges of the new healthcare system are too complex and urgent to tackle in a piecemeal fashion. Instead, we must bring together the separate departments and arm them with the technology, data and insights to make joint decisions – whether this is relocating critical medical devices to patients in need, shoring up cybersecurity attack surfaces, or completing asset procurement orders based on urgent demand.
Bridging the Departments
When looking at the responsibilities of the different “personas” in the hospital, it is fairly easy to see why silos occur. At the top, the C-suite is focused on high-level operations and business imperatives, which makes it difficult to gain a granular view of what’s most needed by the different departments. In comparison, the biomed or clinical engineering teams are operating on the ground level and tasked with maintaining all the equipment or services in the hospital – a task made exceedingly difficult by the explosion of medical and IoT devices on a hospital’s network.
IT’s role intersects with all the aforementioned areas – leveraging the C-suite to obtain the funds and approval to advance operating systems needed to keep the hospital on the cutting-edge of medical innovation, as well as collaborating with the biomed team to coordinate security procedures across all the equipment they must maintain.
In short, these are critical stakeholders necessary to achieving a unified healthcare delivery organization, so they must be treated as such. For example, if an emergency occurs– such as a ransomware attack like the recent Ryuk threat – all parties must be able to quickly sync and confront these issues as a team, not only considering the immediate need to remove infected devices from the network, but also strategize on how they will mitigate these threats without impacting patient care and clinical workflows.
Additionally, if there is an influx of COVID-19 cases, all departments must be able to quickly collaborate on how they will properly intake and treat these patients– looking at factors such as available hospital beds, where critical medical devices are located in the hospital, and whether there are any necessary procurement orders that need to be made right away.
At its core, the ability to accomplish these tasks relies on the availability of robust data and clear visibility into a hospital’s operation, which is only achievable by identifying, adopting and implementing the proper technological solutions. Again, these are significant decisions that straddle the lines between financial and clinical performance, so the C-suite, biomed team and IT must properly strategize and come to an agreement on organizational priorities– not only to tackle emergencies in the near term, but to better arm their staff with the necessary knowledge and tools to improve operations on a day to day level.
Collaboration at the Forefront of Care
If healthcare is going to truly offer a coordinated and patient-centric experience, we must break down the walls of segmentation that exist within the hospital and move to a system where all parties work in sync with one another. Crucially, we must put critical data at the fingertips of our decisionmakers and key stakeholders to allow them to work in closer concert with their peers and intra-departmentally.
As this past year demonstrated time and time again, it’s evident that we are at an inflection point in the industry, and the path forward from here needs to be one that includes all “hospital personas” in its progress. In doing so, we can not only better deal with the next critical health or security emergency but understand the priorities of each department, in turn creating more efficient and strategic healthcare delivery organizations.