Hospitals have already faced numerous new challenges as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. The ever-evolving situation has required new workflows and adjustments to address changes to guidelines and regulations, manage patient surges and ensure staff safety. Adding to the complexity, critical resources, like personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds, ventilators, and medication have had to be strategically allocated due to periods of short supply.
Now, as COVID-19 is surging around the country at its highest levels yet, hospitals can expect further operational upheaval – especially as the annual flu season kicks into high gear and the first vaccinations are expected to hit the market.
Surging COVID-19 is Creating Unprecedented Resourcing Challenges
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have struggled to ensure adequate resources for providers and patients alike, including PPE, ICU beds, and ventilators. Experts have long predicted COVID surges could lead to staff shortages as well, and it seems that prediction is coming true as we approach the end of the year. In fact, hospitals in at least half of the US states are critically short of doctors, nurses, and other staff.
As the coronavirus spreads at its highest rate yet, the shortages are caused by a combination of doctors and nurses being sidelined with infection and an overwhelming amount of patients to treat. Further, the virus continues to spread like wildfire in rural areas--communities that already face a shortage of doctors and nurses.
It's also still unclear how severe this year’s flu season will be. While some experts have suggested it may not be as bad given more people wearing masks and social distancing, any flu surge is likely to further strain staff. In addition to caring for patients, hospitals are now being required to report flu, as well as COVID-19, data. They have until mid-January to comply with these new guidelines, which include wide-ranging data that needs to be submitted daily or weekly, or risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funds.
Logistical Complexities Still Loom with Vaccine Good News
For healthcare workers and the general population, there is light at the end of the tunnel with very promising results from at least two clinical trials. In fact, Pfizer has asked the Federal Drug Administration (F.D.A.) for emergency approval of its vaccine, offering hope that vaccination distribution efforts could begin as early as before the end of the year.
The vaccine distribution effort will be extremely complex, and will require coordination across healthcare organizations to track and share data. Providers will need ways to manage vaccine inventory, identify high-risk groups who should receive the vaccine first, ensure compliance with a two-dose regimen, and monitor patients for side effects.
Interoperable Technology Can Ease the Burden
Interoperability across healthcare technologies will play a crucial role in getting us through this pandemic faster. The Rimidi Epidemic Monitoring Platform was designed to ensure the health and safety of individuals by offering a holistic platform that combines symptom and exposure surveillance, virus and antibody testing, biometric and vaccine data to give visibility of COVID-19 status across a population of patients or employees.
The EMR-integrated platform proactively screens high-risk patients or patients with upcoming appointments and directs them to the right level of care, reducing the burden on triage teams. In addition, the platform tracks a patient’s COVID status (positive, negative, recovered, or naive), and whether or not they have received the flu or COVID-19 vaccine. Providers can configure alerts to support successful vaccination distribution.
To learn how Rimidi’s Epidemic Monitoring Platform can support vaccination efforts, schedule a demo with our team.
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