6 Digital Tactics Health Systems Can Implement This Week to Battle COVID-19

COVID-19 is spreading in all of our communities and transforming our lives in unprecedented ways. At AVIA, we are witnessing our 50+ health system network members rally their COVID-19 response strategies with a heavy focus on digital solutions. Our members have seen great success with the scaling of digital at unprecedented speed to prevent the spread of the virus, treat the sick, and keep clinicians safe. 

Here are 6 tactics that can be implemented in days, not weeks, to help health systems during this crisis:

  1. Text your patients and keep them calm. Broadcast and automated texting solutions can be set up quickly to get your community access to educational and symptom checking resources, new information about virtual visits, office hours, and tools to cancel non-essential office visits.  
  2. Implement a website chatbot to answer questions, navigate available resources, divert call center traffic, and automatically update with the latest CDC information. Update your interactive voice response (IVR) to direct callers to the chatbot as the first option. This will provide relief to overwhelmed call centers and ensure message consistency. 
  3. Place an AI-driven symptom checker on your website homepage as the first step for anyone who wants to be screened, and direct them to virtual visits as necessary. These tools can be configured, updated, and deployed quickly to keep up with emerging data and protocols, a vital step to reduce administrative and clinician time. Tools can also track social exposures in the community when informed by a question in the checker. One health system reported 5,000 users on the day they launched their symptom checker.  
  4. Offer e-visit (asynchronous) and video visit capabilities using provider capacity across your system, including urgent care sites, and bring down the paywall to encourage use. Ochsner Health stood up multiple virtual clinics in the past week at its newly modified urgent care centers, now solely dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

Telehealth and HIPAA regulatory revisions now allow for use of everyday tools (Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.) to reach a broader group of patients. These solutions allow you to scale your shrinking and exhausted clinical staff to reach more patients without the fear of exposure. Light duty, quarantined providers, and even retired providers can conduct virtual visits from home. With the loosening of the regulations, expect a surge in virtual visits immediately. Consider supplementing capacity with a variety of direct-to-consumer, third-party solutions. 

  1. Leverage remote monitoring “bring your own device (BYOD)” apps for appropriate quarantined patients and known high-risk populations to reduce overcrowding in hospitals and reduce exposure risks for providers. Send patients home with a pulse oximeter and thermometer to self-report every four hours via a telehealth platform and monitor remotely for any escalating conditions.  
  2. Start preparations to turn off online scheduling in the coming days or weeks. AVIA Members in hot spots are doing this to prevent the “worried well” from taking up precious appointment slots with clinicians in short supply. These patients can be screened and redirected to virtual visits to prevent transmission (see #3). 

While these are some of the quick solutions you can begin implementing today, our work is by no means done. AVIA is focused on tackling the more sophisticated digital solutions to continue to broadly support our communities as this crisis evolves.  AVIA created the following framework to help our Members map where they are, prioritize digital resources, and mobilize for action. 

Want to learn more about implementing digital strategies in response to COVID-19? Sign up for our COVID-19 Weekly Bulletin here.

For more information on leveraging digital to combat COVID-19, explore our COVID-19 Digital Resource Hub on AVIA Connect or contact us at contact@avia.health.

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