Confronting Coronavirus: Digital Strategies Shift in Coronavirus Fight

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Here are some of the latest developments in how hospitals and health systems are leveraging digital tools and technology to handle the rapid influx of novel coronavirus patients. Please note that we are suspending publication of Market Scan to focus on bringing you important tools, resources and news to help you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

100 Million Mask Drive

The AHA has begun to scale nationally the 100 Million Mask Challenge recently begun by Providence to secure masks for physicians, nurses and other caregivers who are treating COVID-19 patients. The effort will facilitate private-sector partnerships to address shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment. The AHA’s 100 Million Mask Challenge website provides more details.

Crowdsourcing Solutions

A coalition of health systems, tech giants and health care vendors are collaborating to increase COVID-19 testing and coordinate early therapies. The effort, spearheaded by Mayo Clinic's John Halamka, M.D., and other leaders, leverages the strengths of health care organizations, tech companies like Amazon, nonprofits, academia and startups to crowdsource capabilities from the private sector, and use data analytics and evidence-based decisions to respond to the pandemic.

New Tracking Tool

Looking to better monitor the spread of COVID-19, engineers from some of Silicon Valley's most notable companies have joined forces with Boston Children's Hospital's Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein on a new tool dubbed The platform will gather data from people at home and report it to public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the platform launched on March 22, more than 50,000 users have entered their symptoms and locations.

Streamlining Communications

The AHA is collaborating with Verily to promote the availability of a new digital tool to support patient triage to relieve nurses and hospital staff so they can focus on delivering care. Verily COVID-19 Pathfinder can be embedded easily on a health system’s website and provides verified information about COVID-19, triages patients’ symptoms and severity, and directs them to the most applicable actions based on their inputs. Microsoft also is offering its Healthcare Bot service to help screen for potential infection and care.

3D Printers Offer PPE Help

Stony Brook University Hospital’s iCREATE innovation lab is deploying its resources to manufacture face shields through the use of its 3D printers. The iCREATE team has designed certain parts of the face shields to be replaceable so that medical personnel can change them out, allowing for a more sanitized product.

Diagnostic Acceleration

A diagnostic tool for rapid COVID-19 testing, developed by Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian Health's Center for Discovery and Innovation, is now available to other health systems through a licensing agreement. The tool combines elements of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization diagnostics to accelerate the quarantine and treatment process. As of March 24, the health system has been able to test about 90 patients per day in New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states.

Monitoring Clinicians for COVID-19

Johns Hopkins Medicine is using digital health startup Emocha’s telehealth tool to monitor health care providers for COVID-19 symptoms. The health system had previously used Emocha’s software for other infectious diseases.

Social Media Specializes

For COVID-19, a kind of medical hive mind is on the case. Doctors by the tens of thousands are joining specialized social media groups to develop answers in real time. One of them, a Facebook group called the PMG COVID19 Subgroup, has 30,000 members worldwide.

Fast-Tracking IT

As COVID-19 cases rapidly increase, health care chief information officers (CIOs) and IT executives are facing an unprecedented situation with a demand to ramp up technology tools on multiple fronts. Hospital CIOs at Geisinger Health System are quickly putting up telehealth infrastructure and telecommuting capabilities for thousands of employees and also developing tracking tools to help front-line health care workers respond to COVID-19.

Digital Strategy on the Fly

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, innovation leaders at U.S. hospitals and health systems have been forced to re-evaluate their existing digital strategies and reframe ongoing IT projects to assist with COVID-19 triage and treatment. Leaders from Penn Medicine and Houston Methodist tell how they’ve altered their strategies.

Business Community Steps Up to Help Providers Respond

Here are some of the latest developments in how business partners are helping hospitals and health systems respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check Your COVID-19 Pulse

The AHA Digital Pulse, launched with AVIA, is a new self-assessment resource that can help hospitals and health systems identify opportunities for improvement against COVID-19 and many other performance areas, connect with peers and obtain resources to achieve progress. The capabilities addressed in this tool were reported by the AVIA Innovator Network and include such areas as adapting clinical care and operations for COVID-19 and community coordination.

A COVID-19 Vulnerability Map

Jvion, a clinical artificial intelligence company, has launched its COVID Community Vulnerability Map. The public-facing tool, built on Microsoft Azure maps, enables health care providers and communities battling the COVID-19 pandemic to identify the social determinants of health that put populations at greater risk, informing community planning and resource allocation to proactively mitigate the risk to vulnerable populations.

COVID-19 Assessment and Triage

Geneia, a health care analytic solutions company, now offers free licenses for use of its Theon Platform for Care Management, a tool to assess and triage patients who call physician organizations, hospitals and health care systems for COVID-19 information, resources and care.

Free Virtual Care

VitalTech is offering free telehealth access to health systems, physicians and senior living facilities through its VitalCare® platform in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. Monitoring and screening patients virtually for symptoms can keep vulnerable and senior populations safer by reducing their need to leave their homes for medical visits.