The COVID-19 situation unfolding around the world in the past few months has led to citizens, government officials and healthcare workers needing to make decisions they’ve never been faced with before and come together to find new solutions to address unprecedented challenges.
HHS first declared the spread of COVID-19 a public health emergency in January. The World Health Organization classified it as a pandemic on March 11, and on March 13, the President declared a national emergency. As US cases continue to increase, hospitals and health centers are facing several challenges, including maintaining an adequate supply of respirator masks, concerns about the availability of ICU beds if cases continue to increase, and potential drug shortages and disruption to the supply chain.
For physicians, nurses, and other front-line care workers, however, the primary concern is delivering effective, high-quality care to patients as they come in. And doing so requires consistent, secure access to critical patient data precisely when and where it is needed.
In order to make the right treatment decisions swiftly for patients with COVID-19, care teams may need information from lab, radiology, ER, and other departments within the health system, or from offsite physician offices, ambulatory centers, and other remote locations. However, many of these different departments and offsite locations may not operate on the same EHR, making sharing of that information within the system difficult. Additionally, health systems may not have efficient, automated, HIPAA-compliant methods to distribute reports within or across the enterprise. When facing a situation like COVID-19, report distribution of critical information must happen quickly and efficiently so that care teams have all the necessary information on-hand.
Another very real concern when it comes to data access in a pandemic situation is the possibility of system downtimes. This could include anything from internet interruptions and power outages that make EHR data unavailable for hours, days, or weeks, to cyber criminals taking advantage of a health industry thrown into upheaval as an opportunity for cyberattacks.
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