Modernize Public Health Infrastructure to Defend Against Emerging Viruses

Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Modernize Public Health Infrastructure to Defend Against Emerging Viruses

modernize public health infrastructure

Getting back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic would be getting back to a normal where Americans were vulnerable to that form of devastation. COVID-19 has made us aware that public health and economic prosperity are linked. The threat of emerging viruses has been, and continues to be, one of our nation’s greatest threats. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40 public health leaders and corporate health executives met to identify and outline solutions to strengthen our nation’s response to COVID-19. They also discussed ways to move forward and protect us from other emerging viruses. They call to modernize public health infrastructure and for other changes for the betterment of American public health.

Public health experts have stated that a modernized public health infrastructure could have saved more lives from COVID-19 and protected against some of the economic fallout. They advocate that spending be reorganized to update public health technologies and data systems. They also named strengthening partnerships across sectors, effectively coordinating with the federal government, hiring more specialized healthcare workers and addressing systemic injustices as key to a more effective public healthcare system.

The roadmap outlined by these experts to improve public health includes updated technologies because these are essential in times of crisis. These data systems and the information exchanges between public health centers and immunization registries is vital to a faster and more effective response to viral threats on the American public. These data systems make sure public health workers have the information they need to make the right decisions and to employ the right strategies in response to public health emergencies. These technologies are used to track emerging threats, monitor at-risk populations, prevent disease, and promote wellness within our communities.

As public health experts work towards ending and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, they hope to ensure America is better prepared to address future public health crises. It is important not to take this pandemic as a standalone incident and to be prepared when, and not if, another virus outbreak occurs. The government has been offering more funding towards public health infrastructure of late and some legislators are moving to create mainstay funding to keep public health data systems and infrastructure continually updated.

If your public health agency has received funding to modernize your public health infrastructure and you are now in the process of shopping for a new Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution, be sure to do your due diligence and evaluate vendors. Consider those that specialize in public health and find out whether their solution will allow you to connect with immunization registries and HIEs for greater access to health information and faster response time during a public health emergency. Any tools they offer for mass vaccination will also help.

Patagonia Health Provides Tools to Public Health Departments for Successful Mass Vaccination Initiatives

covid-19 vaccine

Patagonia Health’s fully-integrated Mass Vaccination App. efficiently manages the administration, tracking, and reporting of the COVID-19 vaccine.

To manage the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, health departments across the country need to efficiently manage vaccine administration, tracking, and reporting on a large scale. In response to the current environment, Patagonia Health launched a fully-integrated Mass Vaccination App. This secure, HIPAA-compliant solution allows patients to self-register for and self-schedule their vaccination appointment.  Patients are also able to view their consents, while clinicians are able to conduct and document mass vaccination (including off-site) visits directly within the EHR. 

As an expert in Public Health software, Patagonia Health already has the capabilities of vaccine inventory management and administration, including seamlessly sending vaccination data to state immunization registries. Making vaccination data available at the state, and thus national, level is key to effective pandemic response. Patagonia Health’s development team expanded these tools to include patient pre-registration and the ability to manage mass vaccination patients separately from a health department’s regular schedule. Additionally, the app will track multiple COVID vaccine doses based on manufacturer and Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“Many of our customers are in the middle of the largest mass vaccination campaign they have ever performed,” says Ashok Mathur, Founder and CEO, Patagonia Health. “Working with our customers, our team immediately began the process of developing a Mass Vaccination App to meet the demand for the management, delivery and administration of vaccination services at an unprecedented level. Public health department’s staff are stretched due to the pandemic response and they appreciate the time and effort saved by the app. We are proud to contribute to the COVID-19 solution.”

Patagonia Health developed the Mass Vaccination App as an important part of their overall COVID-19 response. To support their customers, the software company rapidly deployed a COVID-19 screening tool and a fully-integrated telehealth solution earlier this year. Patagonia Health aims to provide rapid responses to meet customer needs, especially when faced with unexpected public health challenges.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare

COVID-19 on Healthcare

Throughout many economic downturns it has commonly been stated that healthcare is “safe.” The logic behind this was people always get sick or hurt and need medical care. COVID-19 has turned that theory upside down. As the threat of coronavirus ramped up, hospitals, health systems and private practices heavily reduced non-emergency services to prepare for COVID patients. This reduction in services has dramatically impacted how these organizations function.

Americans Delaying Medical Care

Not only has the reduction in services hurt healthcare providers, but many patients are delaying medical care because of the pandemic, as well. In a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48% of Americans said they or a family member delayed care, and 11% of them said the condition worsened as a result of the delay.(1) Additionally, visits to emergency departments dropped by 38% in March and April.(4)

Both Chicago and New York reported a 30% drop in 911 calls. This is the lowest call volume they’ve had in years. The dramatic reduction in 911 calls signals people’s willingness to go without care for potentially life-threatening situations. Postponing healthcare will quite possibly lead to a surge in hospitalizations for chronic conditions, which will strain an already stressed health system.(4)

What this Means for Healthcare

In California, thousands of medical professionals have been laid off, furloughed or taken pay cuts since March of this year.(2) According to federal labor statistics, healthcare job losses have been second only to those in the restaurant industry.(3) Since February, employment in healthcare is down by 797,000.(3) 

The economics behind this state of affairs are simple: fewer patients and procedures means less money. According to a survey conducted by the California Medical Association, revenue at private practices has dropped by an average of 64% since March 1. Half of the practices have furloughed or laid off staff, 65% have reduced their hours, a third have instituted pay cuts and 11% have closed temporarily.(2)

Healthcare Changes we can Expect

At Patagonia Health, we firmly believe telehealth is here to stay. Especially with relaxed regulations and the ability to collect payments for virtual visits. Beyond telehealth, we might also see healthcare changes, such as:

  • Screening for infection symptoms prior to appointments
  • Barriers between patients and providers or staff
  • Social distancing and restricted visitation
  • Longer appointment times and fewer appointments
  • More electronic forms and paperwork
  • Waiting in cars, rather than waiting rooms(5) 

Public Health Workers, We’re Here for You.

We know county local health department staff are on the frontlines of finding answers about COVID-19. As an Electronic Health Record provider focused on public health, we understand the importance of your work. Thank you, healthcare heroes! If there is any way that we can be a resource to you during this time, please reach out to us today.

Resources:

1https://khn.org/news/nearly-half-of-americans-delayed-medical-care-due-to-pandemic/

2https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-02/coronavirus-california-healthcare-workers-layoffs-furloughs

3https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

4https://www.ama-assn.org/about/leadership/we-can-t-let-essential-care-become-another-casualty-covid-19

5https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/01/americans-are-delaying-medical-care-its-devastating-health-care-providers/?arc404=true