Some Providers Say COVID-19 Has Forced Through Changes Too Quickly

A new survey has found that some healthcare providers feel that the rush to tackle COVID-19 may actually have worsened existing problems with their infrastructure and workflow.

The survey, which was sponsored by secure document transfer solutions vendor Biscom,  connected with 756 respondents working in healthcare who were responsible for capturing, managing or transferring patient health records.

When asked about the impact of the pandemic, 90% of respondents said that it had highlighted existing problems in their healthcare infrastructure.

Less than 60% felt that their organization had been fully prepared to have people and staff work from home, and 70% agreed that the rising use of telehealth exacerbated the problems facing an already-broken communications system, Biscom’s survey found.

It’s not that healthcare leaders aren’t aware of the problem. In fact, 81% of respondents reported that their organization had found workarounds addressing the most pressing problems they face at the moment. Also, 87% said that their organizations had brought in new tools to support communication.

It’s also worth noting that 83% of respondents said that new tools and 79% percent the processes put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic would make them more prepared should another pandemic emerge.

However, survey respondents weren’t happy with how these new tools and strategies were implemented, with 75% agreeing that the COVID workarounds put in place had increased security and privacy risks related to patient data.

Also, 43% said that given how quickly their organization brought on new tools, it was unlikely that the tools had been vetted them as much as they would have otherwise. In addition, 70% said that because they needed to make decisions quickly to adapt to the COVID influx, they might not have evaluated all options.

Under these circumstances, it’s not surprising that 61% of respondents were worried that the lightly-vetted and less-tested new tools could cause problems in the future.

Not only that, 61% of respondents believe that their organization won’t take the time to re-evaluate the tools and processes it put in place during the pandemic, leaving them stuck with them for the long term.

Plus, some fear that this pain may not do any good. Sixty-five percent worry that their organization won’t implement the lessons learned during the pandemic, and 72% of survey respondents predicting that healthcare will continue to evolve slowly.

Still, 79% said that their organization is stronger having gone through the COVID-19 battle and believe that their pandemic-related investments will support them over the long term.

It certainly will be interesting to see how some of the rushed COVID-19-related tool and workflow changes play out over time, particularly when it comes to organizations seeming making big investments.

As we’ve noted previously, hospitals in particular have had to make relatively huge IT bets under extreme time pressure. These projects do seem well thought out on the surface, but it wouldn’t be surprising if unexpected problems pop up one, two, or even five years from now.

However, I suspect that most HIT leaders are focused on meeting the immediate challenges imposed by the pandemic rather than the long-term impact of their decisions. When COVID-19 case rates drop enough, then they’ll have time to focus on long-term plans.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.