How a healthcare system used TeleTracking to manage the flow of COVID-19 patients

Scott Krodel joined the group as CIO at West Tennessee Healthcare on March 2 of this year.

Two weeks later, it became apparent that changes needed to be made – quickly.

“We made a little buying splurge,” Krodel said. IT health news. Like other healthcare systems across the country, West Tennessee had to quickly switch to telehealth where it could and try to make all of its systems interoperable across its seven facilities. And as cases of COVID-19 increased in the region – which was on the verge of being a coronavirus hotspot – Krodel said: “We really struggled at the start in terms of tracking” patients in the system. .

Western Tennessee serves nine counties, with about half a million people, many in rural areas. And on weekends, Krodel says, that population doubles, with outsiders drawn to Jackson’s restaurant scene.

To try to manage the number of patients, the main West Tennessee facility in Jackson was already using TeleTracking, the Pittsburgh-based data company that made headlines earlier this year for its involvement in the new COVID patient tracking system. -19 abruptly unveiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“We did a quick review with TeleTracking and some competitors to make a quick [evaluation] what we need to do around COVID and how vendors could help, Krodel said.

After deciding to expand TeleTracking for use in the rest of its facilities, Krodel said that within two weeks the healthcare system had “company-wide COVID tracking.”

TeleTracking Chairman Christopher Johnson said IT health news that the company, which has been in existence for three decades, has three main functional areas: capacity management, analytics and access to solutions.

“TeleTracking typically takes a few months” to start, Johnson said. As a general rule, he said, “we work shoulder to shoulder” with the facilities.

As with other implementation processes, he said, “COVID has created a restriction on this; getting into hospitals has become very difficult.

“We were able to fit into a rapid deployment model and deploy the technology remotely,” he continued. “West Tennessee was a great partner in that regard.”

According to Krodel, the volume in the main facility was higher than normal due to the coronavirus; Telemonitoring “helps manage early discharge attempts” and identify critical cases in ancillary facilities that may need to be transferred. However, he said, at the moment, “we are so excited all over, I’m not sure it matters.”

Overall, he said, “we could have communicated better” about the number and flow of patients.

Using platforms like TeleTracking, Johnson said, “You can create situational awareness that is shared among all parties. … We are eliminating a huge amount of wasted time. In business, time is money. And in health care, time is life. “

Regarding other tools, Krodel said West Tennessee uses extracts from its electronic health record, Cerner, to be used in conjunction with TeleTracking, particularly with regard to employee well-being.

“We absolutely need to improve our interoperability,” he said. He noted that the system could benefit from the integration of software and population health tools that can extract information from unstructured data.

He also mentions systems like Mercy Virtual Care, which make telemedicine their modality of patient care, as a potential source of inspiration for future expansion.

“It’s something that we want to see where we can go,” Krodel said.

As with other facilities across the country, Krodel said, frontline workers in western Tennessee have felt the effects of months of the pandemic.

“I’m just starting to look at my staffing models. We rushed,” he said. “Our nurses are exhausted.”

Kat Jercich is Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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