Post by Lisa Carroll, Canadian Public Sector Lead, Microsoft Canada
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded earlier this year, healthcare providers across the country found themselves – like so many other organizations – having to urgently reinvent ways to operate, provide patient care, manage supply chains and deploy resources, with many of the usual ways of doing things suddenly off the table. With every second counting, the industry quickly realized that the immediate implementation and redeployment of valuable resources was an imperative.
It hasn’t been easy, but amidst the crisis and uncertainty, we have continued to persevere. I am truly amazed at the incredible transformation our healthcare system has implemented in such a short period of time. Healthcare providers quickly pivoted to new ways of operating, while also coming together as a community to develop new solutions for safe and secure testing to protect the health and wellbeing of our Citizens and supporting the initiation of the reopening our economy.
Microsoft has been working closely with partners and customers throughout the pandemic to solve these big challenges by connecting health data and systems in the cloud, making health work better for patients and providers, and advancing precision medicine. A key priority for us is providing these organizations with the peace of mind to remain confident that their data is being processed by trusted Microsoft platforms that are secure and compliant by design meeting more than 70 industry-wide certifications. Recognizing that the healthcare sector is particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks during times of crisis, Microsoft has also recently implemented an intensified monitoring and takedown of potential threats with an emphasis on protecting critical services, such as hospitals.
I wanted to take a moment to pause and recognize the resilience and ingenuity of a small sampling of the many organizations who are responding and protecting our communities across Canada:
POWERING THE HEART OF VIRTUAL CARE
- CBI Health, one of Canada’s largest community healthcare providers was forced to quickly shift to a primarily virtual care/telehealth model for remote assessment and treatment to protect the health and safety of both their staff and clients, while also ensuring clients receive the care they needed in the safety of their own homes. They quickly adapted and moved 3,000 of its clinicians and administrative users to Teams in just eight days – this is truly a monumental feat! They are now averaging approximately 100,000 virtual patient sessions per month. The company says as its virtual care/telehealth program matures, Teams will allow it to potentially expand its reach and access to clients in underserved areas. Truly outstanding!
- In addition to its use by clinicians and healthcare staff units for communication and resource management, Teams is also enabling in-patients to remain connected to their loved ones who can safely stay out of the hospital environment. At Ontario’s Lakeridge Health, IT and nursing staff worked together to get tablets into the hands of patients, who are then connected to family and friends for Teams virtual visits.
- In Eastern Ontario, The Ottawa Hospital needed their expansive team of clinicians and staff to work closely together, even when physically apart. The Ottawa Hospital did that by leveraging Microsoft Teams to create a digital translation of an open office space, collaboration through secure chat, video calls, and filesharing among staff working across the multi-site hospital, as well as at home. Teams was also a critical piece in the creation of Ottawa’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre – a joint collaboration with The Ottawa Hospital, the City of Ottawa and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
POWERING INSIGHTS FOR BETTER PATIENT OUTCOMES
- Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) group of hospitals was looking for a way to track patient and resources to make more informed decisions on managing the wide spread impacts of COVID-19. Leveraging, Power BI they developed a real-time dashboard for tracking patients and resources – everything from patient admission by site and availability of resources such as beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. The dashboard also monitors crucial test processing, and infection rates. Looking ahead, having instant access to rapidly changing data, and shifting realities has also facilitated the development of predictive modelling and scenarios testing around capacity, resource and supply needs across UHN.
- The eHealth shared services organization The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) was looking for new ways to provide care during the pandemic while also ensuring the safety of their staff. They partnered with Microsoft, and within five days moved nearly 4,000 healthcare workers to an Azure Virtual Desktop Environment and Microsoft Teams. This shift to a digital environment enabled them to rapidly expand their unified communication platforms and provided their teams with a secure centralized repository for all COVID-19-related guidance, data and information. This means their healthcare professionals are now able to screen patients for COVID-19 virtually, and their supply chain department can now order supplies remotely to ensure frontline workers have the resources they need to stay safe.
ACCELERATING HEALTHCARE DELIVERY
There is something to be said about how necessity and emergency often drive innovation, and we are especially proud to be collaborating with Citizen Care Pod Corporation, WZMH Architects, PCL Construction and Insight Enterprises on a new initiative to developed with the intent to revolutionize the accessibility and safety of COVID-19 testing. The Citizen Care Pod is a customizable unit outfitted with the capabilities to enable turnkey mobile COVID-19 testing in high-traffic business environments and communities with the goal to expedite testing, screening, and eventually vaccination on mass scale.
Utilizing modular construction methods, PCL Construction is manufacturing and assembling the pods by retrofitting shipping containers with customizable options to support rapid delivery and installation to any site, including high-traffic or remote locations. Each pod is equipped with a suite of intelligent, customizable technologies powered by Microsoft’s trusted Azure and AI platform, which support a safe and secure testing environment for patients and front-line healthcare workers.
CANADIANS ARE STRONGER TOGETHER
Each passing day of this pandemic brings new challenges, but it’s been incredible to see how governments and healthcare organizations across the country are quickly reinventing ways to operate as many of the changes put in place today will help medical professionals deliver personalized care to Canadians in new, innovative ways in the post-COVID world.
We are proud to be part of new solutions and new partnerships as we join together in our common cause. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’ and at Microsoft we are committed to being there for all of our customers and partners to weather this storm together.
To learn more about Microsoft solutions that can help in the fight against COVID-19, visit aka.ms/healthcareincanada