Healthcare services are central to the successful monitoring and treatment of patients during a public health crisis, yet it is essential to establish best practices that ensure organizational continuity as well as a sanitized environment for anyone visiting or being treated in the facility. These actions are useful in minimizing the spread of any infections, public health crises or otherwise, that are known to circulate in the community.
Crisis preparedness is especially important when maximizing healthcare services to communities. In both established hospitals and any temporary field clinics that might be deployed, an approach that combines optimized current healthcare strategies and the development of alternative medical delivery platforms helps address a specific crisis while also helping organizations maintain continued delivery of healthcare services worldwide. Implementing Document Management Systems and Business Process Automation solutions in healthcare infrastructure can help medical organizations mobilize staff and resources to more effectively respond to a public health crisis.
Community Connections and Mobilization
As with other organizations, hospitals are not immune to organizational disruptions and increased stress among staff members. Organizations such as the CDC regularly release guidelines on how healthcare providers can prepare for a specific crisis, such as the guidelines advising those preparing for COVID-19 to develop or review emergency plans for community outbreaks. The guidance also includes streamlining and developing alternative staffing plans to ensure maximum staff availability.
The WHO had advised in an interim readiness checklist that effective communication and organizational preparedness were a necessary precondition to protecting staff, patients and communities from the potential spread of the coronavirus. The guidance claimed that effective, hospital-based responses could result in essential service continuity, increased coordination of priority action, improved clarity in internal and external communication, swift adaption to increased community demands, streamlined resource management and safety for healthcare workers.
It may be useful for providers to use these guidelines when preparing or implementing a response to a public health crisis.
Leveraging Technology in Fighting Public Health Crises
Comprehensive planning and coordination are essential components of an effective community response to a public health crisis. Medical facilities should develop plans to ensure service continuity for those in need of treatment, while also implementing measures to protect and properly equip staff. Additionally, members of community healthcare systems should coordinate to accommodate increased admission of patients, regulating patient flows and hospital resources to optimize surge capacity. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis especially, healthcare experiences may shift to increased remote communication and process automation in order to streamline resource allocation.
The coronavirus pandemic also uncovered technological insufficiencies in a wide range of organizations. The pressure on local- and regional-level healthcare systems to improve their response to crises can be relieved by investment and implementation in technology that enables communication and collaboration throughout the community.
To maximize physical space in preparation for an influx of patients infected with COVID-19, the WHO recommended that facilities develop remote work solutions and electronic health strategies with the dual purpose of increasing patient capacity and minimizing spread in hospitals. While these solutions were created in direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak, they represent long-term technological disruption for the healthcare sector worldwide. Temporary field hospitals and other repurposed non-health facilities set up to tackle a public health crisis can especially benefit from remote collaboration with other medical facilities and government organizations.
The WHO’s recommendations included ramping up platforms that enable communication and collaboration between medical staff, as well as communication with lower-risk patients at home.
During a crisis or outside of it, enhanced communication and collaboration is a boon to healthcare providers. To enable remote access to important medical files and remote collaboration throughout facilities, organizations can adopt a Document Management System (DMS). Similarly, applying process automation to hospital resource allocation, contract management, payroll and automatic prescription renewals contributes to the alleviation of operational burdens during times of crisis, and drastically improves conditions outside of them.
DMS systems such as Laserfiche have helped organizations worldwide achieve operational continuity during major disruptions, as well as enable remote collaboration and process automation.
For insights on how you can empower your workforce for a public health crisis, check out our webinar, “Meet Public Health Workforce Demands with Laserfiche Forms.”
To learn more about DMS solutions and how to choose the right one for your organization, read our Document Management Software Buyer’s Guide.
Want to gain more insights on how healthcare organizations can benefit from automation? Download the industry brief: “New HIMSS Market Insights Research Reveals Workflow Automation Improves Employee and Patient Experiences”.