Cris Ross, the Mayo Clinic’s chief information officer, says the COVID-19 crisis forced the health system to adapt at a rapid rate, moving from about 4 percent of virtual visits before the pandemic to 85 percent during the roughest days of late spring and early summer. Supported by emergency federal and state mandates that loosened constraints on telehealth, they were able to create pathways that improved care management for patients outside the hospital.
Healthcare was facility-centered but needed to change quickly…
For the most part, Ross says, healthcare was organized around in-patient care, focused on what the provider needed inside the building to get things done. The pandemic turned that upside-down, pushing care outside the hospital, clinic or doctor’s office and forcing providers to use new tools and platforms – technology that often was more familiar to the consumer than to the provider.
In addition, providers were faced with new data and information that they hadn’t had before. Not only were they getting information about their patients and from their patients at home, through digital health devices and portals – they had access to an “overwhelming” amount of medical knowledge at their fingertips, through clinical decision support tools and online sites. This had been developing gradually before COVID-19, but the pandemic served to highlight how the process of delivering care was and could be changing.
“Remember – we were largely a paper industry just a decade ago,” says Ross. That’s a lot to take in in just 10 years.
As the coronavirus continues its course and the healthcare industry looks to adapt to a new health environment, Ross says health systems like the Mayo Clinic – which is now seeing more than a million users on its app – have to modernize the back end to meet the front end.
I may be biased but it sounds to be like they need some librarians…
Providers need to learn how to gather, sort and use the information they’re getting from sources outside the hospital, either by running it through the EHR or alongside that platform. They’re not substituting one for the other, Ross points out, but developing lines of care that adjust to both platforms. Care that has to be delivered in person will be done in person, while services that can be delivered virtually will be accommodated.
“We need to create a digital infrastructure for healthcare,” he says.
Much of that will be driven by consumer preferences, similar to what the travel and banking industries have learned. Healthcare has to be like Netflix rather than Blockbuster.