COVID19 Preparedness and IT Pandemic Preparation

3 min read

Bill Russell, former CIO to St. Joseph's Health and Host and Editor of This Week in Health IT podcast, discussed pandemic preparedness with Healthcare Executive Strategist Drex DeFord this last week on his show.

Download the latest "This Week in Health IT Podcast" 40-min podcast to get insights on how IT teams can prepare and respond to the COVID-19 impacts coming in the upcoming months here, or click on the image below.

How Health IT Teams Can Prepare to Respond to Coronavirus

Drex and Bill discuss several topics, including the cybersecurity highlights on pandemic preparedness and ways IT and InfoSec teams can respond to the current crisis with coronavirus.

IT and Information Security professionals working in healthcare environments and supporting patient care and first responders have a lot to consider, including:

  • Management dashboards for constrained resources
  • Communication Tools: Collect / Share Internal
  • Community Info: Website, Blog, Media, Articles, Videos
  • Self-Diagnosis: Chatbots, Phone banks
  • Non-Essential Contact: Tech for Drive through testing, telehealth
  • Checking-in on non-COVID chronic patients remotely
  • Work from home considerations
  • Cybersecurity: Now is not the time to let your guard down
  • Leadership continuity: Who’s your #2, #3
  • DR Plan: Ready for escalating challenges

Working From Home Cybersecurity Risks

The rapid shift to work from home with remote users where possible is going to impact cybersecurity. IT and InfoSec leaders have to think about users in the middle of real-time pandemic response:

Bill and Drex discuss three groups of people:

  • Staff that can work from home now.
  • Staff that can work from home but need X.
  • Staff that will not work from home.
  • Once you have these buckets, you can start to determine what your plan might be.

VPN Business Continuity and VDI infrastructure

  • You should have a VPN already.
  • Do you have the scale to make it work?
  • If not your architecture is severely flawed.
  • However, don’t fret, this can be scaled fairly rapidly with cloud-based tools.
  • Who requires VDI and who doesn’t?
  • This is important because you don’t plan for the pandemic while it’s happening you plan for it before it happens.
  • What you are learning today will inform what you do for the next one.
  • Don’t stress your VDI infrastructure, give it to the people who most need it.
  • Scale what you can, look to the cloud for the rest.

Remote Monitoring of Chronic Patients Who Can’t Come In

  • It's likely too late to stand this up, but you may be able to open up other lines of communication to remote caregivers.
  • Phone line support for non-coronavirus but chronic conditions.
  • Open up Texting as an avenue to communicate with healthcare providers.
  • Turn existing devices you already have in the home for alternative uses.

The Role of the CIO and Health IT in Pandemic Response

  • Physicians have been moving to CIO roles. What happens if they are called into action. Who steps in? Clearly we aren’t going to have them run double shifts.
  • The obvious choice isn’t always the obvious choice.
  • Watch them during this prep time.
  • Notice who has a calming influence on their team and others.
  • Who is able to make decisions thoughtfully but quickly.
  • Who can prioritize problems well and keep their team motivated?
  • Finally, who do you trust?
  • Consider tapping into experienced support for your backups if they take over.

About Bill Russell and This Week in Health IT podcast

Bill Russell is the Managing Editor and Host of "This Week in Health IT" podcast. Bill has served on executive teams in healthcare, higher education and Fortune 500 consulting practices. As Chief Information Officer for St. Joseph Health, a 16 hospital $6.5 billion system, he rapidly accelerated the diffusion of new IT strategies and methods, while also enhancing organization stability and improved IT performance.
This was accomplished by adopting emerging models like cloud, agile development and investing in two successful startups. On This Week in Health IT, Bill utilizes his experience to prompt leaders, innovators and organizations to share their stories in a conversational style to capture the wisdom of the industry.