Over the past few months, COVID-19 has forced many medical professionals into adopting technologies to provide care remotely. This major shift has had some unforeseen benefits. For instance, patient wait times have been reduced and doctors are more accessible to patient communication requests.
Now that clinicians are transitioning to the digital world, the healthcare industry will likely never return to the way it was pre-pandemic — packed waiting rooms, printed patient charts, and phone tag with other clinicians. The “new normal” will be virtual patient care.
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions predicts that “virtual health will be the near-default option for well-being and care in the future of health [by 2040].”
Unfortunately, many medical professionals are using disjointed point solutions for collaboration that sacrifice the security and quality of patient care. A significant number of clinicians are, therefore, ill-prepared for this “new normal.”
So how can healthcare providers resolve these challenges to suit both in-person and virtual work environments? This is where Dapasoft’s Corolar ConnectedCare App (C3A), powered by Microsoft Teams, comes into play.
C3A offers healthcare professionals a solution to these issues: The ability to communicate and collaborate on a secure platform and provide access to patient data from divergent electronic medical record (EMR) systems. By taking advantage of the flexibility offered by Microsoft Teams, your healthcare team can work virtually and efficiently for patients with other clinicians in a secure setting.
It’s not too late — start preparing for the new normal by exploring how Dapasoft can equip providers with the right technology for virtualized patient care.
Collaboration made for modern healthcare workers
Collaboration has always been the missing piece of the puzzle in the patient care continuum. Now, the pandemic has changed the rules of the game and redefined how care can be provided in a world without in-person patient visits.
“Before the pandemic hit the world, most healthcare professionals used fax as the main communication channel,” says Jijesh Devan, Director of Marketing at Dapasoft.
It’s obvious why these dated communications systems aren’t feasible anymore with so many medical professionals offering care from their homes.
The transition to collaborate and provide care virtually has completely turned the healthcare industry upside down, leaving healthcare providers at the mercy of fragmented and inconsistent communication solutions.
Healthcare professionals, however, now have the opportunity to look for solutions that can help them share data and collaborate on patient health in an efficient way.
By leveraging Microsoft Teams with C3A, healthcare professionals can create an information hub for any patient that can be shared between relevant healthcare providers. This solution offers immediate communication capabilities as well as instant access to medical history and EMR information.
C3A is also supported by Active Directory, which enables health practitioners to assign specific access-based roles to different users. Healthcare providers are even able to invite guest clinicians who don’t have official licenses for Microsoft Teams to collaborate regarding specific patients.
Tools that are simple to use across any device
To adapt to virtual healthcare, clinicians must take on the technology that will streamline virtual services, speed up collaboration, and maintain complete privacy.
Clinicians deal with life or death situations on a daily basis. This means that there’s very little time for them to learn a new set of tools. And yet, there’s an urgent need for an effective solution capable of bridging clinicians and patient needs together.
The Canadian Health Infoway (CHI) reports that two-thirds of patients are now seeing doctors virtually. Medical professionals must be prepared to handle this massive influx of online work for an indefinite amount of time.
This is why C3A embeds all essential patient data into Microsoft Teams — a platform that’s already widely used and can be accessed securely both in and out of the office on any device. As part of the Office 365 suite of programs, most clinicians have existing access to Teams, and thereby its easy-to-use features across all devices.
Now clinicians can worry less about learning how to use complicated tech solutions, and spend more time thinking about what matters: patients.
Keeping security paramount
The quick shift to virtual patient care pushed physicians everywhere to focus on continuing their responsibilities in the most efficient way possible. However, these choices didn’t always have the highest security standards. These decisions ended up putting the safety of patient information on the backburner.
Practitioners can no longer ignore the need for security as cyberattacks on healthcare facilities continue to climb.
With the rise of these attacks in addition to the surge in videoconferencing raids, ordinary meeting software simply isn’t secure enough to store or discuss patient information.
Healthcare providers must ensure that any software they use involving patient data follows government regulation and is secure across all devices and endpoints. That’s why it’s essential to pick a technology vendor that has both health and security expertise.
With C3A and Microsoft Teams, we’re able to completely protect patient data and messages between healthcare professionals through Microsoft Azure. We also offer consulting and advisory services on information security specific to the health industry through our subsidiary brand, iSecurity.
At the end of the day, the move to virtual healthcare should make clinicians’ lives easier, not harder.
Get in touch with us to find out how Dapasoft can improve the way you share patient information online.
Cybersecurity risks continue to grow disproportionately in healthcare as virtual care technology adoption spikes in the wake of COVID-19. It is essential for healthcare CIOs and CISOs to evaluate their virtual care technology implementations in light of this growing risk.
Our recent webinar on the evolution of virtual care in the post-COVID era indicated that cybersecurity is a significant concern to health IT folks as virtual care becomes more prevalent; we could not agree more. Raheel Qureshi, a co-founder of cybersecurity firm iSecurity, a Dapasoft subsidiary, noted that 48 percent of all security breaches in 2019, in Canada was in healthcare.
It is not uncommon for us to see repeated and covert attempts against hospitals; in October 2019, iSecurity’s monitoring service detected 3,257 attempts to gain access to the computers at one of its client’s hospitals. The cyber threat surface area has dramatically increased due to the adoption of VC and unprotected endpoint devices.
In mid-March, the federal government’s Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity issued an alert about the elevated risk faced by health organizations involved in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We think CISOs and CIOs of Canadian healthcare organizations should focus on reviewing their virtual care technology stack before they start integrating these solutions to their core clinical systems. In light of the resource gap many rural health systems face, we are keen to work with rural hospitals in Ontario to review their cybersecurity threat landscape in the light of their virtual care solution use. Please get in touch with us here.
COVID-19 has redefined the rules of the game when it comes to how healthcare is provided and delivered throughout the world. A McKinsey survey has now confirmed that telehealth visits have increased from 11% pre-COVID to almost 46% of all consumer visits (to make up for cancelled appointments and walk-ins). With this massive move to digital health, it is being projected that up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spend can be virtualized in the post-COVID era.
The provider healthcare ecosystem in North America has been on the cusp of change for some time now and it will suffice to say that COVID-19 has provided the final push for the implementation of an integrated digital health strategy. Not only does an integrated virtualized healthcare system provide improved convenience and better access to care, it also greatly improves patient outcomes and makes the care-continuum more efficient.
However, challenges related to adoption of virtual care still remain. While 76% of the consumers surveyed are now interested in using telehealth, only 46% have used it. This may be attributed to evolving healthcare needs during the pandemic, a general lack of awareness of telehealth offerings, or even ambiguity in claiming insurance coverage.
On the providers’ side, concerns about security, privacy, integration needs for existing disparate systems, and other concerns around effectiveness and financial reimbursement may impact the adoption of virtual health in the post-COVID era.
And while investments and acceleration in the use of digital health may still prove to be a watershed moment in the history of healthcare in this part of the world, there’s a long way to go before access to care through virtualized systems becomes embedded in our care delivery systems.
As a long-standing Microsoft partner focused on healthcare providers, we are excited about the new Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. Microsoft brought it to public preview last week during the most widely attended Build event. If you are interested in learning more about how Dapasoft can help you leverage Microsoft’s first industry-specific cloud, please sign up for a one-on-one session with us.
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is available for FREE for the first six months. It is currently for healthcare providers, with plans to expand to payers and life sciences in the future. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare combines capabilities from all three Microsoft Clouds: Azure, O365, and M365. These capabilities should help providers automate tasks, including complex clinical workflows, while enabling analytics with structured and unstructured data. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare enables providers to improve these four areas quickly:
- Patient engagement
- Health team collaboration
- Operational and clinical data insights, and;
- Interoperability and security
At Dapasoft, we have been working with Microsoft product teams hand-in-glove for the last two years on using Microsoft Teams for patient engagement and health team collaboration. We are excited to have four complementary products and solutions to help customers succeed on Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.
For patient engagement, we are especially proud of the Corolar Virtual Care Clinic (CVC), it is coming into public preview shortly. For health team collaboration, using the Teams platform, we built Corolar ConnectedCare App (C3A) – a Teams native application that integrates easily with EPIC, Meditech, Cerner, Allscripts EHR systems, and brings patient data into Teams to facilitate collaboration across the care continuum. Dapasoft’s Corolar Clinical Data Repository is ideal for providers to bring real-time HL7 data feeds from EMRs/EHRs to stand-up an Azure SQL operational insights systems. As a partner with early access to Azure FHIR, Teams platform, we have made it easy for providers to move HL7 data to Azure FHIR. Last, but the most critical strength of Dapasoft is healthcare interoperability. Our Azure native healthcare iPaaS, Corolar Cloud, allows providers to co-exist simultaneously in the new FHIR era and the old HL7 v2/v3 realm.
As a company focused on healthcare and Microsoft technologies, we are excited about the focus Microsoft is bringing to healthcare. We are proud to partner with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to serve our joint healthcare provider customers in Canada and the US. If you are interested in learning how Dapasoft can help you leverage Microsoft Cloud of Healthcare – please sign up for a one-on-one session.
Virtual Healthcare was touted as the next big revolutionary idea for provider systems in North America long before the pandemic changed how we accessed healthcare from the comfort of our homes. It is one of the major reasons why healthcare providers have started to gravitate towards implementing some of these solutions ever since COVID-19 hit the western shores. While there are a considerable number of virtual health solutions available in the market right now, some like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have already grabbed the lion’s share of the market segment.
While it may be some time before patients get acclimatised to these virtual health solutions to truly change how care is delivered, the current pandemic nonetheless has proved to be a slingshot for virtual care in the eHealth ecosystem. Here’s why we think Virtual Healthcare Solutions will play a vital role in dealing with pandemics like COVID-19 and thereby change how we access healthcare now and into the future.
This one is a no- brainer. With solutions like Microsoft Teams, clinicians have access to patient data and history through a single touch on their smartphones. It’s one of the major reasons why Microsoft Teams reported a 775% increase in users in Italy is because of COVID-19. And it’s not just about easy access for to patient records, the clinicians and nurses can now also triage patients online through specific apps built on the Teams platform. To learn more about such solutions, click here.
2. Care Collaboration and Monitoring
Virtual Health Solutions now provide the capability for multiple physicians and specialists to collaborate and work on critical cases through the Teams platform. This not only saves time but also cuts a lot of administrative red tape to deliver faster, efficient and coordinated healthcare for the most vulnerable demographic during pandemics like COVID-19. The Microsoft Teams Patients App, for example, along with interfacing software like Corolar FHIR CDR can bring the EHR data into Teams using existing health data standards like HL7v2 and FHIR.
3. Privacy and Security
While some platforms like Zoom are facing the flak for security issues like Zoombombing – an event where individuals can crash online Zoom sessions, other more established solutions like Microsoft Teams being HIPAA and PHIPA compliant, provide secure messaging and video calling services. Most of the available features in these solutions are policy-based thus providing a greater control over who can send or receive messages and critical data, if needed, on a per-patient basis.
4. Frontline Worker Integration
With the current pandemic, hospital staff is often stretched for hours and that is why managing and monitoring frontline worker’s shifts can prove to a major hassle. Virtual health solutions integrated with platforms like Microsoft Teams provide easy to use apps to manage schedules and flow of shift swaps and cancellations daily. With these administrative applications, workers on the frontlines of our fight against COVID-19 can now easily set their shift preferences and update their schedules from the palm of their hands.
5. Automated Appointment booking and check-in
While it’s important to provide virtual health options to those affected by the pandemic and those who might be asymptomatic, it is equally important to provide the most urgent cases a feasible way to book early appointments and navigate test centers and reduce multiple points of contact during the screening process. Therefore, Virtual Healthcare solutions now provide the capability to automate appointments and check-in through virtual QR codes. These innovative solutions during a time of crisis can effectively ensure that we are addressing the most critical challenges on an urgent need basis.
In short, virtual healthcare adoption is growing and will be the norm in the post-corona era. In a future post, we will delve into how Dapasoft is co-developing a new Teams application that brings the concept of a virtual walk-in for infectious and chronic diseases into to Teams.
The healthcare system in Ontario is over-burdened and strained. Patients languish in the hallways of hospitals, lying on stretchers or waiting in emergency rooms, waiting to be allotted to a room so that their treatment can begin. This situation is not normal. Patients and their caregivers come under immense stress due to a lack of access to proper health services, supervision and follow-up, comfort and even a basic right to privacy. Navigating the system is very hard, getting a family member into long-term care is even harder while securing cancer care carries its own challenges. The condition of many patients worsens daily as they wait interminably in the hallway, waiting for a bed. What’s more, access to mental health and addiction services is often denied to patients who need it on an urgent basis.
The reasons for this are many:
- Overcrowding due to a surge in demand for beds, as in the annual flu season. Occupancy is found to be unsustainable at almost all times.
- 15% of the acute care beds (about 3000 beds) are generally occupied by patients who are medically discharged but waiting for an “alternate level of care” to be arranged, like a long-term care space, rehab bed or adequate home care arrangements.
- Too many patients go to hospital emergency rooms which are open 24×7, for conditions that could get treated elsewhere.
- Hospitals fail to use existing beds as efficiently as possible.
- Home care and community-based mental health care have insufficient capacity with an inadequate number of beds to meet the health needs of the province and its population.
Let’s look at some numbers for Ontario’s healthcare processes:
- Average wait times in Ontario: 16.3 hours in June 2019 against 14.4 hours in June 2018, while touching a peak of 18.3 hours in the flu season in January 2019.
- The lowest time of 3.6 hours was recorded at the four-bed Lion’s Head Hospital in rural Bruce Peninsula while the Greater Niagara General Hospital clocked an average wait time of 37.3 hours in June.
- Target time of 8 hours was only met for 34% of patients
- Number of acute-care beds in Ontario hospitals is just 20,000
- However, 6000 more long-term care beds are being built across Ontario.
Ontario Health Teams – A pathway to offer efficient Health Care
Ontario Health Teams plan to ensure that the patient is put at the centre of health care service delivery, which is expected to be built resiliently and managed efficiently. The vision of OHTs includes tackling and ending the problem of hallway care. This has brought a new vision and hope to patients, caregivers as well as health care providers. As an OHT increases the collaboration among health care providers and services become more accessible to patients, we will see Ontario offering a futuristic, more reliable health care system, for its communities.
Technology to the Rescue
The operations of OHTs shall be based on 8 building blocks, of which digital health is one. The aim is to record and share all the digital health records of a patient, among an OHT’s partners. Such adoption of digital health tools helps to streamline and integrate point-of-service systems and use the patient’s health data for effective healthcare delivery, decision support, operational insights, ongoing quality and performance improvement, and better patient experience.
With just one phone call or a visit to one website, patients will be able to access the health system and secure the services they need, for themselves or their family members. Digitized health records will enable emergency departments to access a new patient’s entire medical history, including recent lab reports using their Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card to provide the best health care possible, in the shortest possible window of time. Health IT in Ontario makes it possible to provide virtual care to a senior patient at home, without a trip to the hospital!
An integrated health care system built around centrally accessible electronic health records shall improve health care processes and make it possible for resources to follow the patient, instead of having the patient come in and experience an agonizing wait in a hospital’s hallway.