The Challenge: The main expectation by a patient from a healthcare center is impeccable medical care and attention. This becomes even more crucial during a pandemic. Doctors had to meet the expectation with reduced physical contact. Relatives of patients weren’t allowed to visit, causing a great deal of trepidation and anxiety for their loved ones.
With over two decades of experience in the healthcare sector, I’m no stranger to trauma and disasters. But even with all the insights and experiences, I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreaking scenes and stress that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work from home is not a feasible option for the IT team of a hospital. I must appreciate my team that didn’t shy away from working right amid everything going on. While at work, we were focused and engrossed in the task at hand.
But outside our work bubble, there’s no denying the turmoil that existed! Everyone lived in doubt and confusion, uncertain about everything that we once deemed safe. Add to that the need for us to work at the hospital and concern about how we’d avoid infection. For the first 15 days, some team members, me included, completely avoided physical contact with our families. We stayed at the hospital guesthouse and ensured our families were safe from possible contamination.
Using technology, we set up systems to facilitate remote monitoring, video conferencing, and virtual consultations.
We also ensured that the team wasn’t overworked. We prepared a duty roster, and every team member worked only thrice a week. The intention was to assure the quality of effort put in, not the number of hours worked. And on those three days, everyone gave more than a 100%.
Our focus was to allow an unhindered flow of information and communication between patients, medical staff, and the patients’ loved ones. Using technology, we set up systems to facilitate remote monitoring, video conferencing, and virtual consultations. We equipped the visitor area with tabs – providing a sense of togetherness despite the distance.
Watching the patients and their loved ones catch up on these video chats gave us great satisfaction. It improved the mood of patients and their relatives; and made up for the lack of physical contact.
We also set up an ICU Command Centre for medical staff to remotely monitor the vitals of all patients. Doctors could safely organize video chats and virtual patient/visitor counseling sessions, thus providing advice, support, and encouragement.
Setting up these facilities was a team effort. We discussed ideas and refined them from the feedback and the criticism we received. What’s working successfully today probably started differently. It was then tweaked to simplify the process or enhance the user experience.
I’m highly motivated when trying to find a solution for a user-reported problem or issue. I’ve trained my team to make processes easier for the end-user. We use preventive measures to resolve issues, thus ensuring that end users have no major problems.
I must add that despite all the precautions we took, many team members, me included, tested positive. Such is the nature of this disease. But we were lucky to receive immediate medical care and attention. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, and all of us recovered well.
Our focus was to allow an unhindered flow of information and communication between patients, medical staff, and the patients’ loved ones.