How Beaumont Health is using patient data, tech to manage COVID-19: 4 Qs with CIO Hans Keil 

When it comes to collecting and managing COVID-19 patient data, Beaumont Health relies on its EHR as its "only source of truth," according to CIO Hans Keil.

Mr. Keil, who serves as senior vice president and CIO of the Southfield, Mich.-based health system, told Becker's Hospital Review that the EHR "is the only way to guarantee integrity, consistency and security," when gathering data on patients with the novel coronavirus.

Managing COVID-19 patients' EHR data, as well as supplemental data from other sources such as mobile apps, regional demographics and custom web tools, helps support Beaumont Health's overarching responsibilities during the pandemic, from operational reporting to monitoring labor capacity and critical personal protective equipment levels.

Mr. Keil joined Beaumont Health in January from PerkinElmer, a diagnostics and life science research company in Waltham, Mass. He spent more than 18 years at PerkinElmer, serving as CIO since 2014. 

Here, Mr. Keil discusses Beaumont Health's IT response to the coronavirus pandemic and how the health system is preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the future.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What are your IT team's top three priorities during the coronavirus pandemic?

Hans Keil: Our top three priorities during the coronavirus pandemic are: Supporting the clinical and infrastructure technology elements of our complete reconfiguration as an organization solely focused on fighting COVID-19; leveraging technology such as video, online screening and work-from-home solutions to keep people safe and minimize infection spread; and supporting our vital supply needs to track usage of key equipment, manage inventory levels and distribute personal protective equipment in timely and efficient manner.

Q: How are you gathering and managing data on patients with COVID-19?

HK: Our EHR is our source of truth for coronavirus patient data – it is the only way to guarantee integrity, consistency and security. This is accomplished by each of our IT departments, from infrastructure to applications to security, being in lockstep with operations and each other to ensure any COVID-19 related operational changes, such as room reconfiguration, lab test creation and bed transfers, are swiftly and accurately reflected in technology.

In addition, auxiliary data is married from enterprise resource planning, regional demographics and other sources such as custom web tools and mobile apps to further enrich our data. The data itself has four primary uses: operational reporting, corporate command dashboard analytics, governmental reporting and forecasting used for modeling labor capacity and critical personal protective equipment levels.

Q: How will the coronavirus pandemic affect your IT and innovation strategy and focus over the next 18 months?

HK: The honest answer is: I don't know. This event will change the industry in ways we cannot yet anticipate. I have asked our corporate audit team members to be the historians of this event ensuring we put our many learnings to good use post-disaster. These learnings, if quickly applied, will ensure increased resiliency against a second wave of COVID-19, a ransomware attack or a natural disaster.

Q: Do you have any tips or lessons learned for other CIOs across the country?

HK: My tips or other lessons learned for CIOs are:

• Stop all other work and ensure a singular focus across IT.
• Put qualified people in the right place quickly. For example, if you have employees with a military background, they could be perfect for key roles in the incident command structure.
• Reach out frequently to your beleaguered but heroic staff; address concerns and keep communication lines open.
• Look outside your four walls for ideas but fight this battle with the tools you have in place. Find creative ways to leverage your existing technology so that you minimize change on an already stressed organization.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Jackie Drees at jdrees@beckershealthcare.com.

More articles on health IT:
Allscripts helps 100+ clients deploy telehealth services through EHR
How the coronavirus pandemic has impacted EHR go-lives at AdventHealth, UCFS & more
Save time, expand access, flatten the curve — Telehealth and the COVID-19 pandemic

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