Weathering the COVID-19 Storm with Cloud-Based Telehealth
Guest Authored by Michael Brandofino, President and COO, Caregility
As the COVID-19 pandemic reached the US, many health systems sought ways to address challenges caused by rising patient volumes in emergency departments, hospitals, and critical care units. The public health crisis brought telehealth adoption to an accelerated tipping point as providers embraced virtual care solutions to limit staff exposure to the coronavirus while caring for COVID-19 patients in hospitals and to provide remote care of patients sheltering at home. Telehealth solutions were needed immediately, but there were challenges. Healthcare providers couldn’t wait weeks or months for new hardware and software to be vetted and installed. Many existing video technology platforms struggled with the sudden increase in capacity demand and experienced service outages.
As providers quickly responded to stand up or expand virtual care infrastructure, many were mindful of identifying a platform that could scale easily. One that would allow for rapid initial deployment but leave ample room to grow as programs expanded against the backdrop of a new, more socially distanced world. Now, with the threat of a second wave of infection looming, health systems are increasingly eyeing enterprise solutions to support the ongoing needs of both inpatient and ambulatory departments.
Throughout this pivotal shift in healthcare, purpose-built cloud-based solutions have helped providers weather the storm that is COVID-19. Several benefits make cloud-based telehealth infrastructure a smart decision for healthcare organizations.
Reduced on-site infrastructure components make quick execution possible. Web solutions also offer a streamlined licensing and activation experience that gets users up and running in less time.
Cloud-based call capacity is more easily scaled, offering providers a simplified, modular approach to telehealth program rollout and expansion. The mobility of web-based solutions accessible via desktop, laptop, or mobile devices further bolsters program flexibility.
Cloud-based telehealth infrastructure creates a centralized operations hub for program expansion across the healthcare continuum. A unified enterprise platform allows health systems to integrate stand-along solutions and eliminate resource redundancies.
Cloud-based platforms for telehealth eliminate the burden of maintaining an on-premise system. Redundant backup and recovery systems and automatic software upgrades save time and costs associated with system upkeep.
Recent news regarding privacy shortcomings among widely used video conferencing platforms has heightened end-user awareness of potential security threats. Cloud computing must always be paired with HIPAA-compliant security measures that ensure data protection. Cloud-based telehealth solutions should include fine-grained data access controls, multi-factor user identity authentication, data encryption, and secure API access. Health systems should thoroughly vet any teleconferencing solution before using, especially if the platform requires attendees to install an application. The solution provider should be able to share verifiable, up-to-date security credentials and certifications.
From enabling patients to visit with doctors from home, to safely connecting in-patients with clinicians and family while limiting the spread of COVID-19, telehealth has made a significant difference during the current public health crisis. Virtual care will undeniably be a growing and permanent fixture in US healthcare delivery as we move forward. Health systems that employ a forward-thinking strategy to centralize and continuously enhance virtual care operations will be better equipped to thrive in the emerging healthcare landscape.
About the Author
With over 20 years of experience in A/V and UC industries, Mike Brandofino has held executive positions with some of today’s leading services companies. As President and Chief Operations Officer of Caregility, Mike drives efforts to expand and enhance service offerings, improve operational efficiency, and continue Caregility’s commitment to customer satisfaction. Having served as CEO for Glowpoint and as an Executive Committee Member as well as EVP at AVI-SPL, Mike brings an extensive level of expertise to his role.
Visit Caregility at their virtual exhibit booth at ATA2020, meet with members of their team, and learn more about their UHE Platform.