Fighting COVID-19: Collaboration, trust and standardisation
Recent months have witnessed the world change dramatically. We've been overwhelmed by a pandemic, the economy has been hit hard and the healthcare system is under pressure. The solution for these kinds of challenges can be found in IT, but technology alone is not enough. People really make the difference as articulated by Dave Tjan, intensivist and medical manager Acute Care at Ziekenhuis Gelderse Vallei, Joyce Simons, senior managing consultant healthcare at Berenschot and Robert Stegwee, strategic consultant for Health IT during a recent HIMSS Dutch Community webinar, which is also available on demand. Whether it concerns intensive care (IC) capacity, facilitating the high demand for coronavirus tests or processing lab results, the human aspect is a crucial one.
Insights on the human factor
Dave Tjan talked about the importance for a clinician to have a timely conversation with patients - together with their family members and significant others - about their future and what they consider to be important regarding healthcare and treatment, ideally resulting in shared decision-making. This process is called Advance Care Planning (ACP). He said: “A good conversation about end-of-life care should become a normal part of modern medicine, we have to break that taboo.
"COVID-19 was a crisis situation and thus too late for this conversation. With vulnerable patients, it should take place during the stable stage of their disease. You want to place the control in the hands of the patients in consultation with their clinician and prevent inappropriate or futile care. ACP may lead to a written advance care plan (e.g. no resuscitation or IC/hospital treatment) and the appointment of a surrogate decision maker,” Tjan continued.
Simons, also member of Landelijk Coördinatieteam Diagnostische Keten (LCDK), shared how the LCDK worked on its goal to reduce the pandemic by facilitating a smooth diagnostic process. In the last few months testing capacity has grown significantly, with the ‘Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst (GGD) test streets’, as Simons showed. “We have been able to make this happen by building on the existing cooperation with all partners in the chain. That collaboration was the prerequisite to achieve our goal. In addition to that, timing and quality of data were key factors,” she commented.
Stegwee spoke about establishing a successful connection between the ‘GGD test streets’ and the labs that analyse the test samples. Stegwee said: “The most important factors for success were the urgency of the situation, with the financial means involved, and trust in the existing cooperation between GGD, labs and their IT vendors. The people working on lab IT have really made the difference.” Furthermore, Stegwee stressed that the power of standards made it all happen more quickly.
Cooperation, trust and standards
The importance of the human factor is clear based on the experiences of all the speakers during the webinar, while cooperation and trust are also imperative throughout the healthcare chain. Furthermore, the value of standards in times of crisis is once again reinforced by the acceleration it facilitates.