How hospital IT departments can prepare for COVID-19

A leading German hospital CIO advises IT to support clinicians and ensure IT systems are running robustly and securely whilst supplying timely information to management.
By Cornelia Wels-Maug
12:25 PM

Henning Schneider, CIO, Asklepios Kliniken, Germany, compares COVID-19 to recent epidemics during the latest 'Talking Points' webinar, organised by the HIMSS D-A-CH Community.

According to Schneider, Germany is in preparation mode. Like during the Ehec outbreak, he acknowledges great concern among the population and hospital staff, but also a willingness to take on additional responsibilities and come up with creative answers to unprecedented challenges. Above all, he notices all departments pulling together in a joint effort to help the unwell. Unlike the Ehec crisis, coronavirus represents a worldwide challenge that, for the first time, also affects manufacturers as their supply chains are disrupted. This only compounds the severity of the crisis.

Schneider offers IT departments the following recommendations during the webinar:

1. Ensure that IT stays in the hospital and works alongside doctors and nurses to understand what is most urgently needed on site.

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2. Support management to make informed decisions by generating data, e.g. number of free intensive care beds or of patients admitted in the emergency room.

3. Focus on functiioning operations. This includes measures around enhanced communication and collaboration tools like installing Skype, setting up capabilities to work from home and offering secure access from outside the hospital. To this end, extended internet capacities are key.

WHY IT MATTERS

With the coronavirus epidemic spreading, hospitals around the world are preparing for a flux of COVID-19 infected patients. They not only must suspend elective procedures and enhance the discharge process for medically fit patients in order to ramp up capacities, but hospitals’ IT departments are identifying ways of how to best support hospital staff perform their jobs.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Healthcare institutions around the globe can learn from each other as to what measures prove effective in dealing with the coronavirus. Sharing best practices is at the heart. Schneider has consulted with colleagues from Italy to understand their key challenges and shares these insights within the Asklepios network of clinics, but also with other hospitals across the country. In addition, he has also communicated outside Europe, specifically in the US, and has shared learnings on how to prepare for the outbreak.

ON THE RECORD

Schneider expects a significant change in attitude towards the digitalisation of healthcare delivery: ”Post crisis healthcare delivery will be significantly different than before the crisis. Particularly the role video consultations, which will not disappear afterwards. Overall healthcare delivery will need to be reassessed in light of COVID-19.“

He also cautions not to ease any security measures: “We have to find a better way to guarantee the safety of hospitals. There have already been the first attacks on hospitals by hackers sending COVID instructions that look like official letters from the Ministry of Health.”

The'Talking Points' webinar with Henning Schneider, CIO, Asklepios Kliniken, Germany was moderated by Armin Scheuer, VP  of Business Development, HIMSS International.The full recording is available in German here.

 

 

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