Northwell Health’s pandemic experience makes the case for robust occupational health IT

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Northwell Well being, New York’s largest well being system, was pissed off with the restricted capabilities of its present occupational and worker well being IT, and was pressured to develop work-around processes to beat know-how deficits.

THE PROBLEM

With the intention to handle each worker well being and the supply of companies to different employer purchasers, the well being system was utilizing a mixture of various vendor and homegrown applied sciences. There was little integration between these functions and approaches. Data was in silos, and vital handbook effort was required.

“We performed a complete vendor analysis together with demos, an RFP, reference checks and a overview of proposals,” mentioned Dimitry Trembitsky, senior director of product companies and administration for info companies.

“As we accomplished the analysis course of and chosen the Enterprise Well being know-how, the COVID pandemic struck and we needed to instantly pivot our focus to COVID response – each for our personal workers and in help of our employer purchasers.”

PROPOSAL

Northwell Well being turned to Enterprise Well being and requested if it may set deployment of the seller’s full know-how to the facet and as a substitute deploy COVID-specific performance. With greater than 78,000 associates together with volunteers, contractors and different stakeholders, Northwell wanted a know-how that might scale to its giant footprint, could possibly be configured and deployed at lightning velocity, and could be versatile sufficient to help the group throughout a quickly altering and unsure time frame.

This was mission crucial, because the occupational well being group was chargeable for caring for the Northwell workers who have been in flip caring for COVID sufferers.

“Enterprise Well being spent the primary few months of the pandemic working with their consumer base to quickly configure present performance to help COVID-specific use circumstances and workflows,” Trembitsky recalled. 

“Happily, they’d an present pandemic response module, which they have been in a position to shortly adapt, they usually additionally modified present performance, together with worker portals, case administration, reporting, lab ordering and outcomes, and mass immunizations.

“They packaged this COVID-specific performance up as an providing referred to as Channel-19, and enabled us to start out with this as an preliminary section,” he continued. “Initially, our main want was round worker symptom-monitoring. We would have liked to quickly arrange an worker portal enabling workers to report on COVID symptom standing previous to beginning every shift, and to clear workers for work based mostly on responses.”

“We have been in a position to arrange feeds from not solely the Northwell PeopleSoft HR system, however from a number of different programs we use to trace volunteers, college students and different nontraditional populations frequent to well being programs.”

Dimitry Trembitsky, Northwell Well being

For purchasers with signs, Northwell wanted to have the ability to prohibit them from work and set off case administration protocols to trace them till clearance could possibly be granted for return to work.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

Enterprise Well being was in a position to work with Northwell Well being to shortly arrange an worker portal for symptom monitoring, in addition to a scientific utility that enabled the worker well being group to conduct case administration for symptomatic or uncovered workers.

“As a part of this effort, we have been in a position to arrange feeds from not solely the Northwell PeopleSoft HR system, however from a number of different programs we use to trace volunteers, college students and different nontraditional populations frequent to well being programs,” Trembitsky defined. 

“We additionally have been in a position to combine with Northwell’s Kronos system in order that workers have been notified to finish symptom monitoring solely earlier than their scheduled shifts.”

The well being system additionally arrange single sign-on to allow the worker inhabitants to log into the worker portal simply.

“Early on, we threw Enterprise Well being a curveball, and requested if they may additionally assist us handle our annual flu program,” Trembitsky famous. “The answer we have been utilizing was less than the duty and would have required vital customized improvement within the midst of a pandemic – and our desire was to handle each COVID and flu vaccinations out of 1 system. Enterprise Well being was very accommodating, and we added this as a second, parallel section to our COVID mission.

“As well as, it shortly turned obvious that the COVID pandemic was fast-moving, consistently evolving, and would final far longer than initially hoped for,” he added. 

“We shortly moved from symptom monitoring and case administration, and labored with the seller to configure their answer to help new COVID testing modalities, the emergence of variants, the supply of vaccines and vaccine mandates.”

The pandemic and the rules imposed by numerous authorities companies created an ever-changing set of necessities, and Northwell wanted the seller to stay agile and adept because it navigated this new territory.

“For instance, when COVID vaccines turned out there, Northwell and Enterprise Well being collaborated to quickly reconfigure their present mass-immunization functionality to help worker COVID vaccinations – together with the administration of a number of vaccines with differing dosage necessities and establishing interfaces with state and metropolis immunization registries,” Trembitsky mentioned.

“Northwell was an early chief in getting this arrange, and we’ve got been in a position to proceed to switch workflows to help boosters, vaccine mandates, and the assorted regulatory and coverage twists and turns we’ve got confronted,” he added.

The worker vaccination program was so profitable the well being system was in a position to modify the workflow to help the administration of COVID vaccines to non-employee populations like first responders and different emergency staff. Northwell was designated as a website to help these populations, largely based mostly on its early success with worker populations and its potential to combine with and collaborate with immunization registries.

RESULTS

Northwell was in a position to handle worker symptom-monitoring very successfully over the course of the pandemic. Workers are notified previous to reporting to work that they should full a symptom-monitoring questionnaire, they usually instantly obtain a cleared/not cleared digital badge after they submit their response.

The worker well being group is notified of workers who are usually not cleared, and they’re able to case-manage symptomatic or constructive workers out of the Enterprise Well being know-how. This saved us from an unmanageable mountain of handbook effort. As well as, Northwell was in a position to generate studies displaying compliance and symptom standing, giving it real-time visibility into the standing of the workforce.

“When it turned obvious that COVID vaccines have been in improvement, Northwell started collaborating early with Enterprise Well being to be prepared for vaccine administration,” Trembitsky recalled.

“As a result of this advance preparation and our mixed potential to anticipate vaccine complexity – a number of producers, various dose necessities, and so on. – and to shortly set up interfaces with each the New York Metropolis and New York state immunization registries, we have been in a position to administer the primary vaccine within the U.S. to a Northwell nurse,” he mentioned.

This generated vital nationwide and worldwide press protection, and the picture of a Northwell Well being worker in entrance of the Northwell brand was ubiquitous. This strengthened Northwell’s place as a pacesetter within the well being system house. It additionally demonstrated the dedication to the well being and wellbeing of the worker inhabitants.

“We additionally collaborated with the seller on growing and launching a cellular app to deal with worker symptom-monitoring,” Trembitsky mentioned. “This cellular app replicates the performance in our worker portal, and works on iOS and Android platforms.

“The seller’s know-how routinely generated e mail and textual content reminders to our worker inhabitants earlier than every shift,” he continued. “Nonetheless, we realized that sending textual content message reminders to tens of 1000’s of workers every day was value prohibitive.”

Even given quantity reductions given the scale of Northwell’s inhabitants, it could value the well being system greater than a half million {dollars} yearly in textual content message charges. With the cellular app in place, Enterprise Well being can generate app push notifications. This all however eliminates texting charges for Northwell and for its workers.

The seller’s know-how additionally provides Northwell the power to confidently handle vaccine mandate compliance. Northwell can doc vaccine administration within the vendor system and seize proof of vaccination for workers who’ve been vaccinated elsewhere.

The well being system can also generate studies that present vaccine mandate compliance, enabling it to remain in step with the mandate for healthcare staff.

“Primarily based on the outcomes achieved, we have been in a position to cement the enterprise case to Northwell administration that we would have liked to spend money on deploying the complete Enterprise Well being answer,” Trembitsky mentioned. “The pandemic underscored the crucial significance of a gift, productive and wholesome workforce, and the necessity for a robust underlying digital infrastructure to help occupational and worker well being initiatives.

“Our collaboration with the seller and our potential to navigate the pandemic aided us in justifying the funding in a extra complete answer,” he added.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

“Whereas I might not advocate ready for an additional pandemic earlier than you take into account investing in this sort of know-how, my ideas on what to contemplate when making choices about occupational and worker well being options is knowledgeable by our expertise over the past two years,” Trembitsky mentioned. “I might advise my colleagues at different well being programs to contemplate the next when evaluating potential companions.”

  • Agility. COVID made it abundantly clear that well being programs want know-how companions who can reply quickly and creatively to help consumer necessities, use circumstances and workflows. Whereas the feverish tempo imposed by COVID will subside, agility has change into a enterprise crucial.
  • Collaboration. This pandemic has been hectic for anybody concerned in occupational/worker well being. It has been particularly attempting for well being programs, because the occupational well being group is chargeable for managing the well being of those that deal with sufferers with COVID. Northwell now totally appreciates the significance of working with know-how distributors who can show empathy, flexibility and understanding, and are keen to roll up their sleeves and work with the well being system side-by-side. Be looking out for companions who might help you determine what to do when confronted with an ambiguous and ever-changing scenario.
  • Complete performance. Well being programs want know-how with occupational and worker well being depth and breadth. It isn’t sensible to handle worker well being utilizing a number of business functions, spreadsheets, homegrown databases and even paper. Well being programs want know-how that may deal with a variety of occupational and worker well being wants on a single platform, together with the power to handle each your personal workers and third-party consumer packages with one system.
  • Interoperability. A powerful answer will be capable to combine with HR programs, timekeeping functions, labs, immunization registries, e mail functions, medical units and patient-facing digital well being file programs. With the intention to enhance worker well being, it is very important eradicate information silos and harmonize all worker well being information on one platform.
  • Worker engagement. One of many unanticipated outcomes of the COVID pandemic is the “nice resignation,” which has been felt acutely within the well being system house. It’s extra essential than ever to construct workforce belief, and know-how that engages workers and makes it straightforward for them to share and entry info helps to show dedication.
  • Future funding. When evaluating applied sciences, take into account greater than the preliminary value, and account for downstream advantages reminiscent of the power to retire a number of functions/approaches, the aggregation of worker well being information on one platform, anticipated productiveness/effectivity beneficial properties, and the worth of improved worker engagement.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Electronic mail the author: bsiwicki@himss.org
Healthcare IT Information is a HIMSS Media publication.

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