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How Prepared is your IT Organization to Support the Rise in eHealth?

Published By Patrick Anderson
How Prepared is your IT Organization to Support the Rise in eHealth?

From electronic medical records (EMR) to tools for diagnosis, treatment and management, global healthcare has been adopting digital technologies to improve day-to-day operations and patient care for many years. Unsurprisingly the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified digital demands on hospitals and other medical institutions as they adapt to remote patient care. In this digital-first climate, software and IT systems can make a significant difference as organizations across most industries become increasingly virtual enterprises.

While not new, software-driven platforms—such as telehealth (or telemedicine), e-consultations and e-subscriptions—are witnessing a surge in adoption in recent months. Whereas before in the U.S. telehealth was not incentivized and doctors would not get paid the same for an in-office visit, that has changed in response to recent events. Healthcare organizations now need to take stronger, more direct strides to become a software delivery organization as the pandemic evolves. Systems and capabilities will be required to not only continue support for e-health interactions but also for logistics and deployment for vaccines and daily tests, as well as assisting programs for general health not related to the global virus. 

Digital Innovation is Here to Stay  

While a return to safe physical interaction in the future may seem desirable for first-class treatment and support, some of the most impactful digital innovations will become permanent fixtures. “I think we’ll use the best digital bits to improve the patient experience where possible,” explains Karen Byrne, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. “E-prescribing has already replaced traditional paper prescriptions. Video consultancy brings flexibility for patients who can’t visit a medical facility for whatever reason — be it their job, childcare or they’re too sick to travel. Ultimately, I think it’ll be about balancing technology with physical interaction to ensure a cross-channel approach that puts everyone’s health and safety first but allows the patient choice in how they are consulted.”

In light of this development, it’s crucial that the software that underpins those physician-patient interactions is up to the task of meeting that demand, both today and for any inevitable future global health crises. Experts warn that due to the human impact on the environment, another pandemic is a “probability, not a possibility.” IT organizations must be empowered to make swift changes to adapt. From our work at Tasktop, we’ve seen first-hand that the healthcare organizations with real-time visibility into the performance and stability of their digital products and services portfolio—and, crucially, visibility into the IT teams that build and support that portfolio—are in a stronger position to shift gears quickly. 

Supercharge Response 

Technological and non-technological leadership across these organizations are having to work closer than ever before to be able to prioritize resources to accelerate response where it matters most. Like a doctor assessing a high-risk patient, they need the right information at the right time to be able to quickly and accurately assess the vital signs of their digital operations to effectively respond before it’s too late. They need specific live data into their software delivery that enables them to answer questions like:

  • What are our most important product lines for these times?
  • Where can we pull resources to rebalance?
  • What can we do to accelerate feature development and release for products and services in high-demand?

The case for an efficient e-health service has reiterated the need to be able to build and support the necessary systems without delay. “Possessing the technology and capabilities to swiftly pivot to telephone and video consultations, alongside e-consultations, was absolutely critical in ensuring a safer level of patient care when face-to-face consultations were severely restricted,” emphasizes Byrne. “Our surgery acted very quickly to move to digital interaction and we were very fortunate that the NHS’s IT organization was able to quickly supply us with what we needed, including secure VPN-enabled laptops to work from home.

Focus on the End Users 

Having the right systems and infrastructure to support medical professionals like this has never been more acutely felt. The velocity of delivery, the stability of operations and the speed of end-user feedback loops must be at the forefront of any discussions between IT and business leadership and management. True to the principles of value stream management (VSM), the process must start and end with the people who rely on the product.

“The design of software systems must be steered by the needs of practitioners and patients, not by IT or tool vendors,” says Dr. Shaun Anderson, a Consultant Intensivist who works in both the NHS and private care. “Providing optimal care comes down to usability. In the past, I’ve been forced onto a tool that came with all these fancy bells and whistles that didn’t help me or my patient. The best healthcare systems need to be a collaborative endeavor between IT and the medical staff. I know some doctors are learning to code on the side, but really when it comes to services at scale, we need tailor-made digital experiences that work in “the moment” to allow us to focus on our job.” 

What’s Slowing you Down? 

The right set of metrics into the health of the software delivery organization can help leadership quickly identify what’s working — and what’s not. Specifically, how work that creates and protects value is flowing across key product value streams to support their portfolio — including products that are built and supported externally.

Similar to the automotive industry, many solutions are assembled by multiple vendors—IT is one of the most outsourced areas in healthcare and was forecasted in 2018/pre-pandemic to reach $61.2b by 2023. With supply chains inter-dependent, it’s essential to obtain real-time visibility across the whole complex system to identify bottlenecks in a timely manner, helping make the right decisions for establishing capacity vs. demand and setting priorities. 

Whether it’s being able to deliver a mission-critical system in a certain timeframe or fixing one that has performance problems or crippling bugs, IT leadership needs an instant means to know the state of their software delivery teams across product lines. With this intel, they can become better at managing internal and external capacity, especially with outsourcing so prevalent in healthcare, and bring more to the table to help facilitate more meaningful discussions and ensure ROI with stretched resources.

Measuring the Value Stream with Flow Metrics

A leading U.S. healthcare specialist has been able to use a specific-set of value stream metrics, known as Flow Metrics, to discover which investments in people, process and technology would help them go faster.  They were able to use the live data from the flow diagnostics generated from Planview Viz® to double their feature velocity across the value streams that mattered most to their end-users by: 

  • Reducing unnecessary work weighing down developers to free them up to work on priority, value-creating work that would support employees and patients
  • Investing in the right roles further upstream (business analyst) to improve understanding of work flow states to accelerate flow 
  • Capable of using real-time metrics to test hypotheses for data-driven continuous improvement across key value streams
Download case study

Learn More About Compliant Data-driven Continuous Improvement

Watch Tasktop Sr. Value Stream Architect, Dan Feminella, Tx3 Services Co-founder and CRO, Eric Toburen, and Merck & Co. Test Tool Specialist, Petr Srajb, in this live webinar on how organizations can start making data-driven decisions while maintaining compliance and traceability by:

  • Automating the flow of Computer Systems Validation (CSV) Lifecycle data to eliminate duplicate entry and boost productivity.
  • Providing real-time visibility into the health of your product value streams to see how business value is flowing—not just work
  • Generating Flow Metrics to spot bottlenecks and identify opportunities where investment is needed to maximize business results.

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Written by Patrick Anderson

Patrick is Senior Content Manager at Tasktop and oversees the company's content and thought leadership programs. Outside the office, you’ll find him reading, writing, slapping some bass (poorly), rambling in nature and following his English football (soccer) team, West Ham United.