COVID-19 will forever change healthcare delivery: 4 observations from CGH Medical Center CIO Randy Davis

Randy Davis, vice president and CIO of CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Ill., outlines his priorities during the pandemic and four observations about how the healthcare system will change as a result of COVID-19.

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

Randy Davis: From an IT perspective, my priority is keeping my staff feeling safe and not having the important behind-the-scenes work that defines much of what we do come to a halt. I realize those are broad statements, but that's it in a nutshell.

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

RD: Specifically for IT, creating a new balance between work and home while maintaining deadlines for projects already slated prior to this virus. More generally, the concerns are around the financial impact to our system.

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

RD: We are waiting to see how the finances may change what we had planned. That's the gorilla in the room. For projects already in the pipeline, our focus has not changed. Some projects requiring clinical interaction and feedback may slow a bit as everyone adjusts to a different type of interaction (largely video), but needed updates, infrastructure changes, etc., march on. The only real limitation will be capital budgeting restrictions brought on by the financial ramification of this.

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

RD: Well this is a broad question and causes me to jump outside my lane a bit. My observations:

1. I've heard from many patients they are discovering the way they defined their "acute" need for healthcare in the past may need recalibrated. In other words, COVID-19 has chased most other disease states away, and people are learning in many cases that has left them no worse for the wear.

2. The post-event analysis I believe will be flowing with compliments for nearly all caregivers, and not nearly as complimentary to "hospital systems." Why? We have gone along like sheep with the just-in-time delivery protocol, and there has been a price to pay for this. I believe systems will create a list of must-have items and stock more appropriately. It's not a crazy long list, for a community hospital it may be only 20-30 items. It's difficult to reason away how quickly supplies were depleted. I realize the excuses that will be offered, but if systems will be honest, I think they'll admit treating a hospital like a manufacturer insofar as deliveries are concerned didn't work out very well.

3. The need for access to records has now been 100 percent verified. Commonwell and Carequality are an absolute requirement. It's ridiculous for any physician to not have access to your records if they need it.

4. Home monitoring will take off. Patients not wishing to sit in waiting rooms with others will push the technology forward, and they should. Prices will fall for these devices. Patients really won't have a good reason to waste all this time to/from a physician’s office for the vast majority of what they need to be seen for. Hospitals will lose facility fees under provider based billing for remote visits. Watch closely for their reactions.


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