COVID-19 put pressure on an East Coast academic healthcare system to complete three major IT initiatives that it considered high-priority efforts, even as it had resources diverted to combat the coronavirus onslaught. Ongoing support and additional efforts from The Huntzinger Management Group. Inc. (Huntzinger) helped the organization complete these IT projects, which modernized the health system’s IT footprint and helped its surge capacity to handle virus cases.
One of the initiatives involved pursuing a go live of Epic at one of the system’s hospitals and its ambulatory clinics. The project was already underway, with go live scheduled for mid-March, just as coronavirus cases started to ramp up. The system was using two other vendors’ systems, and in spite of the expected stresses to patient capacity expected by coronavirus patients, the organization’s leadership decided to proceed with the go live because so much of the pre-conversion work had already been completed or was nearly done.
Huntzinger had 17 resources assigned to the project, including a program director who moved from his home in a southwestern state to the East Coast headquarters of the system. Other consultants were able to work from their homes to remotely support the go live.
The switch to the new Epic system at the hospital was one of the quickest experienced by the healthcare system. After the all-hospital go live on March 15, the command center leading the transition was in operation only 12 days before it was closed.
That was fortunate because the healthcare system had other urgent initiatives to address. It played a role in the quick deployment of a 240-bed temporary hospital at a convention center in a nearby city. The emergency facility was to be deployed by the system and another large academic medical system, with support from government agencies. The Huntzinger program manager and other team staff then switched over from the Epic rollout to provide IT support for the temporary facility.
Finally, the organization decided to respond to the pandemic by moving staff off site, necessitating the swift adoption of technology to support a remote workforce. Over just a few weeks, the technology put in place included secure messaging; remote access through a networking vendor, virtual desktop technology and the implementation of a virtual private network; teleconferencing technology enabling both audio and video communication; a contact center/help desk to support remote workers; and more.
The virtual care initiative also was expanded to include access to various sites. These included emergency care tents throughout the metropolitan area; modified communication capabilities for patients in isolation (thus reducing consumption of personal protective equipment at the system’s facilities); and mobile solutions that enabled the provider to have a video conversation with remote patients and monitor them remotely.
The technical support from Huntzinger enabled the organization to quickly move to utilizing a remote workforce while continuing to provide much needed service to the community during the COVID-19 crisis.