2020 has brought more change and challenges than many could have imagined.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and livelihoods across the world, with hospitals and frontline healthcare workers pushed to capacity. Healthcare organisations rose to the challenge and demonstrated enormous resilience and adaptability, finding new ways to provide the best possible care to patients in hospital and in the community.
This is why, despite the many challenges that still lie ahead, I am positive that the healthcare industry will continue to deliver better patient experiences and health outcomes in 2021. The digital evolution in healthcare that is currently unfolding has seen the increased use of data and technology to improve patient care, safety and quality, ease clinical workloads and create efficiencies across the healthcare system.
I wanted to share some of the learnings and discoveries from our customers and the industry as a whole.
The tremendous promise of remote monitoring and virtual care
For many years, remote monitoring has been touted as one of the most promising opportunities to change models for healthcare in the digital era. COVID-19 has highlighted its value and social distancing requirements have created the conditions for widespread adoption. Over the course of the year, we have been working with healthcare organisations to support remote patient monitoring programs.
When the pandemic started, Murrumbidgee Local Health District decided to leverage the capabilities of our Miya Precision product to create a dashboard to monitor in real-time COVID-19 positive or at-risk patients, both in hospital and remotely. Through its Hospital in the Home (HITH) program, patients were cared for in their homes with monitoring armbands to track their conditions with the results displayed immediately in Miya Precision.
The need for real-time, actionable information at acute hospital sites
In the acute hospital setting, the pandemic created unique challenges for patient care, including the accurate recognition of cases, confirmation of both testing request and results, establishing patient acuity and alerting doctors and nurses to deterioration. To help hospitals detect COVID-19 earlier, we created a coronavirus assessment tool to support early intervention and treatment of cases.
For a number of years, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation has used our early warning software Patientrack (now known as Miya Observations and Miya Assessments) for real-time electronic observations and assessments. With the COVID-19 assessment tool, the NHS trust was able to provide its hospital management and clinical teams with hospital-wide visualisation and accurate reporting of patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 to support the management of its local response.
A unified and coordinated response from the industry
The leadership we have seen in the healthcare industry across Australia, New Zealand and the UK has been absolutely extraordinary. While technology and digital solutions have helped to reduce human contact and transmission and enable ongoing care, the public health response to the pandemic has required unprecedented levels of collaboration and coordination among multiple stakeholders.
We have seen a rallying of healthcare teams across all our customer sites and the support they afford each other during this time is inspiring. Clinicians are committed to the health and safety of their patients, above and beyond what most people understand. It has reminded me, as cliché as it sounds, that we really are all in this together and only together can we rebuild sooner and stronger.
The benefits (and sometimes barriers) of remote work
The necessary move to remote work has presented a vast array of opportunities – and challenges. At the start of the year, I couldn’t have imagined moving our entire company to remote work. It has been overwhelming (and surprisingly) successful. Our employees are spread across at least four different time zones so we were used to collaborating via video conferencing, but this was a different experience.
During various restrictions and lockdowns, our leadership team recognised that we would need to make additional efforts to keep our people engaged and to maintain a strong company culture while working from home. We learned how to add some fun to bring our teams together again through fancy dress events or online game shows. We also realised how much we missed in-person connections too.
It has been more important to articulate our purpose and our values, to motivate employees and lead our business through this uncertain time. I believe the ability to arm clinicians with the power to provide a safer environment has truly empowered our teams, knowing that they can make a real difference supporting those who act at the frontline.
As we close out this tumultuous year, we remain committed to supporting all our customers as the healthcare industry continues to address new and existing challenges. On behalf of everyone at Alcidion, I want to extend our deepest gratitude for your continued support of our company this year and for your ongoing efforts at the frontline.
Kate Quirke is Managing Director at Alcidion