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As we begin to gradually emerge from restrictions to slow the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic, hospitals across Canada face a daunting new reality.
Prior to COVID-19, hospitals already operated in a complex, high-pressure environment. They strived to provide the best care possible to growing numbers of patients while dealing with strained resources and systemic inefficiencies that sometimes created lengthy backlogs for treatment and medical procedures.
The road ahead is expected to get more complicated. Hospitals will need to figure out how to effectively resume services that were paused during the early stages of the pandemic – such as elective surgical procedures – at the same time as they navigate new safety protocols and infection control measures that will put even greater pressure on capacity, wait lists and staffing.
It will change the way hospitals deal with patients at every stage of their hospital journey from triage to discharge for some time to come – not just until a vaccine or treatment for the COVID-19 virus is eventually discovered, licenced, and made commercially available.
“The new environment will be significantly more complex than what it was before COVID-19 and it was already very complex,” says Gene Macdonald, director of Integrated Health Solutions (IHS) at Medtronic. “Life post-COVID-19 isn’t going to be about returning to normal in healthcare. It’s about helping hospitals regain control of their caseloads.”
Since being launched five years ago, Medtronic’s IHS team of data scientists, and clinical operations experts has been helping hospitals identify, understand and control their costs, while optimizing efficiencies to enhance the patient experience.
As they prepare to adapt to new operational models taking shape in healthcare, there will even be more pressure on hospitals to optimize their processes.
Medtronic’s IHS team specializes in helping hospitals learn more about themselves by taking a deep dive into data such as staffing variables, bed availability, and processing times. IHS data science and analytics experts design custom simulation and modeling tools to review process flows, identify bottlenecks and identify solutions to improve care pathways and quality of patient care.
“In healthcare, everyone is doing his or her best to provide the best care for patients,” says IHS Senior Program Manager Morteza Zohrabi, MD. “However, there are many system-related issues which need to be analyzed and improved. At Integrated Health Solutions, we work very closely with healthcare professionals and administration to make their efforts more fruitful and lead to improved outcomes.”
IHS also develops a simulator for each project to breathe life into raw process flow data collected from hospitals. It creates tailored simulations based on their unique patient populations and circumstances, showing them how they can optimize operations through different operational models.
“In many ways it’s like watching a movie,” says Project Manager Farbod Abolhassani. “It’s a really good tool to power decision-making. The simulator presents many options and they each have their benefits and drawbacks. The simulation helps our clients understand the changes we are proposing and both sides of the issue.”
In all projects, the IHS team is committed to delivering results. It doesn’t simply complete a review and hand over a report with recommendations to administrators and clinicians.
“We stay on to ensure implementation. We make things happen. We see ourselves as partners in healthcare and partners in solutions,” says Morteza Zohrabi.