Hospital administrators working remotely are leading a necessary cultural shift. Staff in doctors offices, small clinics, and major health systems alike have suddenly found themselves separated from their essential clinical workers due to the high risk of COVID-19.
Until now, most medical facilities haven't had cause to develop culture and practices that support remote work. This list of tools from startup experts will help your practice get up to speed!
Organizational Tools for Offsite Clinical Support Staff
When staff aren't in the office to point each other in the right direction, it's important to have consistent, single sources of truth for information.
Back and forth between email, attachments, and different drives quickly multiplies errors in a clinical environment. So-called nonessential healthcare workers will still need to reach documents in a timely manner even when offsite.
Patient records or inter-office documents should remain on one platform as much as possible. More consumer tools than you'd expect can be HIPPA-compliant if configured in the right way.
HIPPA-compliant drives: Dropbox, SpiderOak, Google Drive, Carbonite, Microsoft OneDrive
Remote Patient Monitoring to Decrease In-Person Contact
Already a growing part of the healthcare ecosystem, one remote patient monitoring (RPM) company reported that their number of client health systems doubled within the first month of the pandemic.
DirectShifts staffs RPM services with licensed, vetted clinicians, and we know that they can do the job without the hassle of onboarding in-person. Experts say that remote support is key for a flexible crisis response.
Leading RPM providers: Athleas, Masimo, Vivify, Optimize.health
Increased Security for a Remote Medical Administrative Team
Working from home introduces security pitfalls. One of the fastest security interventions you can take is ensuring that remote employee access to your network is only done through a VPN.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) shield your internet traffic. Users connect directly to an encrypted server, preventing intermediaries from snooping PHI over WiFi or other means.
However, HIPPA turns normal rules for VPN security on their head. For HIPPA compliance, your VPN must collect user logs to implement access control and enable auditing. Commercial services do not typically do this, and many larger hospitals maintain their own networks.
Solutions: Speak to a consultant or look for a VPN that advertises a BAA (business associate agreement), indicating that they are HIPPA-compliant.
Messaging Tools for Contact Between In-Person and Remote Teams
For compliance reasons, health systems have lagged behind other industries in adopting new software. However, if you have a hospital working remotely, organization now has a free pass to bend the rules.
HHS has suspended many HIPPA/PHI provisions for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to encourage remote teleconferencing. Still, you can find tools that generate a reasonable amount of privacy.
It's important to have multiple channels to connect your team for different purposes. Videoconferencing is vital, but instant messaging gets small tasks done faster.
Connect your in-person and at-home hospital workforce on the same call; and leave time for open ended questions. For busy hospitals without a significant office culture, this may be easier said than done. Harvard Business Review suggests a high level of contact between in-person and remote team members, along with frequent intention check-ins.
HHS recommended videoconferencing software: Skype for Business / Microsoft Teams, Updox, Vsee, GoToMeeting
Emotional Care During Remote Crisis Situations
You may have heard rules from different studies about the amount of communication that takes place in-person. One famous study contended that 7% of communication is word-based and 93% is body language and tone (though any self-help book will have its own ratio).
Build a culture by speaking to departments with a history of remote work, suggests FierceHealthcare. The accepted wisdom is clear - it's frustrating to communicate remotely for an extended period of time.
Take the time to perform small thoughtful actions to overcome the communication gap. Share resources to support your team.
By mastering basic tools, your office or hospital can maintain continuity of operations while limiting onsite staff to the most essential workers. Modern technology makes it easier than ever to meet the current crisis head on.
This article was originally published on Melnic. It was recently acquired by DirectShifts.
Are you spending too much money on recruiting new clinicians? Are background checks and credentialing of candidates eating half of your time? Sign up with DirectShifts today! We create an "Uber-like" experience for healthcare employers who can easily find pre-vetted candidates and easily move forward with only qualified clinicians. Click here to know more.