This is one of those topics that can’t be fully explored in a blog, but let’s talk about some of the more obvious impacts that we are seeing. Unfortunately, the pandemic appears far from over and challenges abound.
As a digital transformation company, we can’t help but notice the remarkable increase in the adoption of this technology. Much like employees “working from home” chances are good that behaviors have changed somewhat permanently. However, one of the biggest differences is the decrease in patients seeking medical help altogether. While patients are more willing to access this technology since Covid they are also deferring preventative visits or elective procedures. This has caused a spiraling downturn in how clinics and hospitals generate revenue.
The nightly news will regularly report on the hard-working medical professionals on the gruelingCovid frontline. The situation on other floors of hospitals tells a much different story, however. Patients are not returning for non-critical services. Part of this pattern was propagated by hospitals. Initially, as Covid spread, hospitals asked patients to postpone non-emergency procedures. Normalcy has not returned as the Covid landscape looks very different depending on where you live. Before Covid the healthcare industry added > 8,000 jobs a month in the US. Now hospitals are in a cycle of laying off and cutting the pay of non-essential healthcare workers while grappling to hire enough essential workers inhard-hit cities and towns.
As an IT consultancy, we see the good and the not so good that technology can introduce. With telemedicine, patients gain access to specialists and perhaps improved timeliness of care. The not so good could include connectivity (think broadband issues), loss of personal touch/interaction and an insurance reimbursement system and healthcare rules that still haven’t caught up to the technology.
Perhaps one of the most widely talked about topics has been the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the healthcare industry. The reliability of supply chain management has never taken on more importance. Were cost reduction or lean strategies the reason for supply chain failure or was the world never really prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude? Countries like India relied almost 100% on imported medical gear deemed essential at the start of Covid. There is a science, technology, and strategy associated with supply chain management and it’s a topic we help clients navigate as part of their ERP strategy and initiatives.
To be fair, not only was the demand turned way up by Covid but also new expectations around safety - think contactless delivery and increased hygiene. Throw in hoarding of supplies, price gouging and counterfeit PPE entering the market and you now have a perfectly disastrous storm. How many healthcare organizations were unprepared to purchase supplies using digital payment methodologies? The importance of supply chain management, sourcing and reliability is now at the forefront of conversations not only in healthcare but at most businesses. There have been lessons learned that hopefully won’t soon be forgotten.
Why technology has not been more helpwithCovid testing requires further review. There are many complicated scenarios when it comes to testing and the variety of different types of tests. While initially, supply chain roulette (lack of tests and PPE) exacerbated the issue, the lack of timeliness of processing test results appears to be as much of a roadblock. Healthcare organizations continue to compete for testing supplies internationally while the velocity of the virus undercuts the value of test results that can’t be obtained in a timely manner.
We expect advances in equipment and technology associated with testing could be a possible longer-term silver lining. This may not fix the shortage of trained clinical laboratory scientists which are still part of the testing equation. Many locations can and do report results via digital health apps that automate the delivery of results efficiently to patients. In medicine, quality controls are especially important which directly relates to accuracy and can also impact timeliness.
As we work with clients, the topic of data and system security couldn’t be more relevant. As it relates to Covid - credible news outlets like The New York Times have reported that allegedly Russian hackers are actively trying to gain access to proprietary coronavirus vaccine research via malware and email to gain access to security credentials. Canadian, British and American governments have identified attacks on healthcare companies, universities and drug companies studying the virus such as AstraZeneca. It is unclear just how successful these attacks have been, and Moscow denies involvement, but Russia just announced its intent to be first to approve a coronavirus vaccine with a target date of 8/10/20. This would make Russia the first country to do so.
At Third Stage Consulting, we don’t pretend to have special insight into the pandemic but have certainly highlighted where the technology may be able to help. We continue to see an uptick in business in three specific areas:
Determined companies are past the “paralysis stage” and are taking decisive action to mold their futures. Please reach out if we can be of assistance with your business.