COVID-19: A Blessing in Disguise Moving Health System Innovation

Dec 2, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, hospitals were burdened with a new set of responsibilities. They had to look for quick ways to provide PPE to their workers and connect doctors to vulnerable patients at home. Getting coronavirus testing to the community was another primary emergency task.

This opened doors to innovations in many health systems across the globe. In an interview, Pothik Chatterjee, the executive director of innovation and research at LifeBridge Health, discussed these changes.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The shortage of PPE came as the first challenge. This led to the health system creating the materials themselves.

He stated that they had found themselves in a supply chain challenge for PPE earlier in the year. They ended up launching their own PPE factory on the hospital grounds of LifeBridge Health.

LifeBridge Health had teamed up with UnderArmour, who provided the design and the supplies. They had also employed 3D printers to help create parts for facial shields, a component of a complete PPE.

Digital Platform and Reimbursement

The hospital partnered with a tech company called the Getwell Network. This was to build a mobile that would help monitor patients tested at LifeBridge’s drive-through testing centers.

Furthermore, the app would help monitor these patients’ symptoms and give patients advice. The advice centered on what steps patients should take if their conditions worsened and about how to quarantine.

He also mentioned reimbursement targeted towards the online activity. “So, there is additional incentive for us as a health system to provide these types of digital services to our patients.”

Social Determinants of Health and Community Care

Chatterjee further highlighted social determinants of health altered by the pandemic.  He explained that COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot of health equity issues that already existed before the pandemic. However, these issues further worsened as a result of the pandemic.

In addressing this issue, he, with his team, developed a program to reaching patients within their communities. In the summer, they launched the Community Mobile Clinic program, where they had vehicles going to West Baltimore. There, they offered Covid-19 testing and health screenings to patients. He mentioned that these patients could not access COVID-19 testing at their hospital sites due to the social-determinants challenge. According to him, these digital innovations are here to stay – even after a vaccine is found.

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