'Our innovation initiatives really helped prepare us for taking care of our patients' during the pandemic: Insights from Houston Methodist's Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury, vice president of innovation at Houston Methodist, sees digital health technology and innovation as integral aspects of the health system's strategy to treat patients today and post-pandemic.

Here, she discusses her team's responsibilities as the health system cares for patients with COVID-19 and how she expects healthcare delivery to change over the coming months.

Question: What are your top priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Michelle Stansbury: Taking care of our patients and our staff. This is unprecedented times, and it's amazing to see how our staff have tirelessly made themselves available to care for these individuals who have gotten the COVID virus. Here is a story about our Highly Infectious Disease Unit that I would like to share. 

Q: What are your top concerns heading into the next 30 days?

MS: Now that healthcare systems can begin to provide more services over the coming weeks, it will be important that we protect our staff and patients to ensure the virus doesn't spread. This will mean increased monitoring and protective measures that we hadn't previously done before the pandemic.

Q: How will the pandemic affect your strategy and areas of focus in the next 6 to 12 months?

MS: Our innovation initiatives really helped prepare us for taking care of our patients. We had already started providing telehealth visits as well as implemented virtual ICU in our main hospital. We quickly were able to train several hundred of our clinicians to provide virtual care, and we are now planning to expand our virtual ICU plans across our health system. Our virtual visits averaged around 50 per day and they are now averaging over 2,000 per day. Virtual care is here to stay, and we are working to expand our capabilities.

Q: How do you think COVID-19 will change healthcare delivery, and what can health systems do to prepare?

MS: As I said earlier, we greatly benefited from our innovation initiatives, and I believe health systems should look at how digital health technology can change the way they treat patients.

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