UW Medicine: Top 10 things hospital IT departments can do in response to COVID-19

From increasing telehealth and telework capabilities for physicians and employees to designing real-time dashboards to track COVID-19 care, Seattle-based University of Washington Medicine made various changes to its IT strategy in response to the pandemic.

Here are 10 things UW Medicine recommends healthcare IT organizations do during the pandemic, according to a recent Applied Clinical Informatics report:

1. Establish a new IT response structure or evaluate your existing plan to ensure IT services can support hospital surge for weeks or months.

2. Evaluate and implement all EHR updates as quickly as possible. IT staff should support this 24/7 so the information security team has a rapid process to assess, document and approve risk decisions during the emergency.

3. Quickly implement telehealth capabilities at multiple sites, and begin training providers immediately.

4. Ensure internal systems can handle the influx of use of the network and telehealth resources by assessing remote user capability, licenses, software, hardware and bandwidth limitations.

5. Start planning for emergency-level access that allows people to surge and flow between sites.

6. Expand access to patient screening tools and prioritize ensuring that patients know how to self-screen prior to presenting COVID-19 symptoms.

7. Determine a centralized intranet site for disaster management and communication, including an incident command dashboard of automated metrics.

8. Establish IT's role in transmitting communication to the workforce; test deployment methods to ensure messages reach the entire workforce.

9. Prepare for more help desk support requirements and quickly solve issues with clinicians using new telehealth services or new teleworking employees.

10. Plan for widespread remote work across the organization and provision equipment and policies to manage the remote workforce. 

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