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Coronavirus conversations

March 23, 2020

Starting this week, I am doing a series of podcast interviews with healthcare IT leaders who are now in the spotlight as key enablers of an effective response to the coronavirus pandemic. I hope our readers and listeners find the information useful.

My first guest is John Kravitz, CIO of Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, one of the largest health systems in the country. Kravitz speaks about how the organization’s leaders have been “blown away” by how technology has stepped up to help address the Covid-19 crisis. Geisinger’s IT organization has trained over 1000 physicians and kept up with a 500% increase in telehealth visits. Geisinger has doubled its remote working staff to 13,000 employees and has kept the “lights on” in the midst of the short-term disruptions. His telling of how the families of Covid-19 stricken patients nearing their end of life are using telehealth tools to exchange their last few words is heart-breaking. In the midst of all this, Kravitz believes the crisis has created a new awareness of the opportunities for digital transformation. It’s a remarkable story. Take a listen.

In the face of ongoing shortages for test kits, the CDC has launched a self-checking chatbot tool (in partnership with Microsoft) for anyone who thinks they may have the symptoms for Covid-19.

In a dramatic shift, the CMS announced last week that it would reimburse telehealth visits on par with in-person visits. This could be the tipping point for telemedicine in the new normal for healthcare when we come out of this crisis.

We have included a number of other stories related to how technology is enabling the response. My favorite pick for the week is this article by Dr. Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on what we must do to protect healthcare workers at the front lines of the battle we’re in.

Digital transformation in healthcare: our picks for the week

Testing for COVID-19

The CDC has launched a self-checking chatbot tool for Covid-19 in partnership with Microsoft.

Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

In one stroke of the pen, the CMS lifted restrictions on telehealth and brought reimbursements on par with in-person visits.

Doctors and Patients Turn to Telemedicine in the Coronavirus Outbreak 

The use of virtual visit tools is spiking dramatically as a necessary response to the crisis.

Telemedicine companies are struggling to serve ‘extreme volumes’ of patients as coronavirus calls surge

The sudden shift to telehealth as the default mode has stretched the limits of technology’s ability to cope with the surge.

CIOs Vs. COVID-19: Tech Leaders Are Key To Companies’ Emergency Plans

From making remote working tools work to handling bandwidth availability to telehealth visits, technology leaders now find themselves in the spotlight.

Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers

Dr. Atul Gawande talks about best practices and learnings from other countries, notably Singapore and Taiwan, on how to protect our healthcare workers on the frontlines.

HHS cyberattack highlights how hackers are exploiting the pandemic. Here are 4 strategies to mitigate the risks

This is not the time to short-circuit cybersecurity practices in the name of Covid-19 crisis response.

How EHR vendors are arming providers to handle COVID-19

EHR vendors are focusing on improving triaging and communication features to help overburdened physicians with the crisis response workload.

Paying to stop the pandemic

The Economist ponders the difficult economic policy choices for national leaders looking down the barrel of a big recession.

The Deadliest Virus Ever Known

This long form piece on the 1918 Spanish Flu and the world of virologists by Malcolm Gladwell from 1997 provides interesting perspective for the current Covid-19 crisis. Among the many interesting facts in the article: the first known case of the “Spanish” flu was from a military base in Kansas.

The latest from Damo Consulting

Podcast – Episode #39: John M. Kravitz, Chief Information Officer, Geisinger Health System

“We’ve seen a 500% increase in telehealth visits.”

The WITCH Monthly Monitor (February)

Our monthly update on major global IT consulting and services firms in healthcare. It provides latest financial and market performance updates on WITCH companies along with other global IT consulting firms.

Fear, loathing and profits – the battle over data access and data privacy in healthcare

The proponents of data access declare it to be a fundamental right for consumers.Those who stand to profit – or lose – from open access to patient data have different points of view.

White paper: What health systems must do to accelerate digital transformation

Our latest white paper explores how health systems can accelerate digital transformation.

The WITCH Report: 2019 Mid-Year Review

A review of the financial and market performance of global technology consulting firms in healthcare.


Extreme social distancing

March 16, 2020 For the coming weeks, this newsletter will focus on curating articles from credible sources that provide useful information on the coronavirus crisis.

What Hath God Wrought?

March 09, 2020 I borrow the subject line this week from the first ever telegraph message by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1843. Now, as then,

No handshakes, please. Namaste.

March 02, 2020 As I write this, HIMSS2020 is set to proceed as scheduled, with additional precautions to prevent any possible risk of infection with