8 big questions for CIOs as the coronavirus hits 45 states

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Coronavirus cases are appearing in communities across the country and healthcare organizations are preparing for an overflow of cases, remote working and potential understaffing as a result of efforts to contain the spread. Forty-five states have reported coronavirus cases as of March 12.

All of these issues require technology to execute well, and CIOs are on the forefront of coordinating efforts. Renton, Wash.-based Providence CMIO Brett Daniel, MD, was in the heart of the initial outbreak in the U.S. and shared a checklist of how the health system is dealing with big issues from a technology standpoint.

Here are eight big questions for CIOs as hospitals begin to take on coronavirus cases:

1. Do we have the right infrastructure to support virtual visits for physicians and nurses? What additional equipment do we need to make sure clinicians can conduct virtual visits from home?

2. Can we support non-caregivers working remotely? What does our system need to securely ensure a large number of staff members can work from home?

3. If building capacity at the hospital becomes a priority, how will IT support efforts to create new departments, map equipment and wayfinding throughout the hospital? Will you be able to maintain wifi and mobile capabilities?

4. How can IT support monitoring patients under investigation for coronavirus through self-reporting vitals and check-ins during the quarantine period, both inside and outside of the hospital?

5. There will be more labs that need evaluation. Where is the most efficient place to send these tests for the quickest response, and how will you keep track of the tests?

6. How can you utilize patient communication for education about how to proceed if they think they may have the coronavirus? How can they use on-demand scheduling tools?

7. Hospitals may experience staffing issues as clinicians or staff become ill, or they must take time off with their children if there are school closures. How can you expedite training on technology for replacement staff and overflow staff?

8. How will you communicate with your team for meetings and updates when many members are working remotely? How do you ensure all staff members get the updates in real time?

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