Looking Back on Technology’s Impact on Healthcare in 2020
COVID-19 challenged the healthcare industry in unprecedented ways. Healthcare providers were forced to do more with less time and limited resources. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of technology in the industry, and its impact on healthcare workers and patients. Here are four technology solutions that were instrumental to healthcare facilities battling COVID-19 during its 2020 onset.
Healthcare providers turned to telehealth in the dawn of the pandemic. According to the CDC, the number of telehealth visits during the last week of March 2020 jumped 154 percent compared with the same period in 2019. Telemedicine allowed – and continues to allow – healthcare providers to virtually care for low-risk patients and those who require follow up visits or routine check-ins. This reduced the number of unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities – lowering the rate of exposure for patients as well as healthcare workers. Telemedicine also allows healthcare providers to share patient information with one another and gives primary physicians greater access to a wide range of specialists.
Short for mobile health, mHealth refers to healthcare that is supported by mobile devices. It gives patients the ability to access their records, pay bills, fill prescriptions, and schedule appointments anytime, anywhere. Some mHealth technologies allowed healthcare providers to monitor COVID patients. Others were used to predict symptom escalation for earlier intervention. There are also apps that allow users to capture their own health data without a healthcare provider’s assistance. Many providers discovered that 24/7 access to mHealth point-of-care tools results in better decision making and improved patient outcomes.
To curb the spread of COVID, healthcare facilities implemented strict visitation restrictions. Many facilities worked quickly to discover new and innovative ways to connect patients with their loved ones to provide a sense of comfort to patients and reassurance to family members. Some initiated virtual patient-visitor programs using patients’ personal mobile phones or tablets. Others installed video-intercom systems that allowed patients to communicate with family and could also be used for patient-to-clinician interactions. This allowed nurses to conduct visual checks and decreased the amount of personal protective equipment that is required when entering the room of an infected patient.
To meet the increasing demands for additional personnel due to rising admissions and patient acuity, many healthcare facilities turned to staff scheduling software. Software such as ScheduleAnywhere ensured every shift was properly filled with qualified individuals. The software also allowed healthcare managers to instantly communicate with individuals, select groups, or all employees to fill open shifts or relay important messages. Additionally, scheduling software accurately tracks skills, training, and credentials, which helped the facilities remain compliant with federal, state, and administrative requirements.
As much as we would like to wipe the 2020 slate clean of many of its events, we would be remiss if we did not look back and learn from what they taught us. We learned that technology is ever evolving and when we embrace it, we can overcome even the biggest challenges.
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