Accelerating digital transformation during a public health crisis
- Posted on December 1, 2021
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
We all remember where we were when the world first went into lockdown due to COVID-19. In an instant, everything changed. Companies everywhere suddenly needed to shift gears and quickly implement new solutions to keep their businesses running while allowing employees to work remotely – or at least from a safe social distance – wherever possible. Digital transformation strategies that had been mapped to roll out over months or years suddenly needed to happen within weeks, while some organizations found themselves scrambling with no strategy at all.
COVID-19 forced everyone’s hand from a technology perspective, and nowhere was this pressure felt more acutely, perhaps, than in the healthcare industry. The pandemic accelerated the need for things like quality virtual care and telemedicine, remote collaboration and solutions to mitigate clinician burnout. Health professionals around the world had to quickly adapt to keep themselves and their patients safe while on the frontlines of the fight against the deadly virus.
Avanade’s health and life sciences team couples our knowledge of the industry with our unmatched Microsoft ecosystem capability to help clients innovate and transform to meet challenges and realize opportunities. In the wake of the pandemic, we began working with our clients to accelerate the implementation of their Microsoft-based solutions, up against some of the tightest deadlines we’ve faced. One of these clients was Australia’s Mater.
Mater quickly responds to a worsening crisis
Avanade and Microsoft had been working closely with Mater – a not-for-profit health provider with a network of hospitals across Queensland – on its digital transformation strategy to change the way healthcare is delivered and received. We were partway through assisting Mater with its cloud foundations when the COVID-19 pandemic began and interrupted everything, almost overnight. Suddenly, we had to look instead for rapid new solutions that could help Mater deal with an influx of patients afflicted with the virus.
“At the start of the pandemic, we were managing the majority of our COVID-19 patients from their own homes. We had paper-based records and forms, and an obligation to report patient information regularly to our state health authority,” explains Jayne Barclay, Mater’s director of clinical informatics and digital solutions delivery. “As the modelling suggested that there might be an exponential increase in cases coming, and clinicians could only physically visit a certain number of patients each day, we had to come up with ways to see how patients were doing without having to physically visit them. Furthermore, we wanted to keep them from needlessly coming to the hospital to minimize the risk of transmission and protect the safety of our staff and patients there.”
Avanade and Mater created an application in just a few weeks using Microsoft Power Apps that digitized physician and nursing workflows and automated several patient forms and data pieces that the organization wasn’t able to do with its paper-based processes. This greatly reduced the amount of time spent filling out forms and doing manual reporting, allowing more patients to be served.
Key to this rapid implementation was our use of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Healthcare Accelerator, which uses a pre-configured data model to drive value quickly. Having that existing structure made integration with Mater’s existing infrastructure much easier.
Transforming the road ahead
Mater is once again looking at its overall digital transformation and is much further ahead than it would have been without this engagement. By setting the right foundations, this solution helped support the pandemic crisis and will help Mater on its journey to digitize more processes within the hospital and expand the level of homecare it can offer its patients.
“This project really broke the traditional rules of how we might have delivered a digital project at Mater,” says Barclay. “We used a brand-new technology that we’d never used before, we didn’t have a project plan that had been developed over a number of months and we were really able to be responsive to the current needs of our patients and clinicians.”
At Avanade, we often talk about helping our clients rethink, reset and renew. From virtual care and clinical collaboration to data interoperability, clients are realizing the power of digital transformation to help tackle some of their toughest challenges. In the face of an unprecedented health crisis, we helped Mater rethink its processes, reset how it serves its patients, and renew those processes using Microsoft technology that will continue to evolve with the organization.
Watch this video to discover how Mater digitized workflows to keep patients and healthcare workers safe.