COVID-19’s Impact on Workforce, Supply Chain, and Patient Engagement

We are living under extraordinary circumstances and bearing the brunt of this crisis is healthcare. The public sector is under tremendous strain, elective surgeries have been cut, and other healthcare providers are still awaiting the full impact of this global pandemic.

In Australia, our healthcare has been reasonably prepared for COVID-19. Compared to other nations, we have significant coverage of ICU infrastructure and specialists, and we have a wealth of great hospital leadership supported by strong talent pools. This has been complemented by the Australia public showing diligence in terms of limiting exposure and acting intelligently, rather than going outside to protest isolation.

Healthcare has been very responsive – gearing up with thousands of nurses to assist with potential spikes in infection and resource shortages. Healthcare providers have upskilled staff across their organisations in terms of COVID-19 response, have created pathways to onboard thousands of workers into new roles, and provided telehealth options wherever possible to limit risks and ensure people remain safe.

Intelligently Adapting To New Models of Healthcare
In early April, I spoke with chief evangelist for SAP Analytics and SAP Leonardo, Shailendra Kumar. We discussed my career to date and digital aged care in this time of isolation. Digital aged care combines data for smart devices and applies machine learning to help care providers and family members by mitigating risks and ensuring the right care for users – such as enabling remote wound care.

Looking further out in the industry, telehealth is important for people needing to access healthcare remotely. However, the speed and severity of COVID-19 demonstrated how underprepared some healthcare providers are in terms of capacity and training in terms of providing digital healthcare.

Now is the time to explore possibilities in terms of new models of care, including telehealth – particularly its limitations and an understanding of current online services. There is a wealth of tools, resources, and processes for online care available. It is important healthcare providers offer staff the right technology and support to keep them safe and productive during this crisis. Adopting all tools is as dangerous for business continuity and patient outcomes, as adopting nothing at all.

Staff talent is vital right now as people are the key to enabling more digital transformation across the healthcare sector. The technology can only support and streamline the capabilities of employees, so education is paramount. Healthcare workers need to feel supported at this time, particularly as they’re at the frontline managing patients and adjusting to their needs.

Patient engagement can be challenging, especially when healthcare is being administered digitally. SAP is currently offering free patient experience management though Qualtrics. This allows healthcare providers to automate emails and surveys to gauge patients’ sentiment, requirements and preferences. And, with Qualtrics’ Text IQ capability, providers don’t need to sift through 1000 essays from patients, but rather see the overall sentiment and drill into critical responses.

Transparency and Agility in Supply Chain & Workforce
Communication is vital right now – both internally with staff and externally with patients. With intelligent communication and analytics tools, healthcare providers can better understand the environment in which they’re operating and better plan in terms of workforce and supply allocation. This allows our industry to move with greater agility and be more resilient during challenging circumstances.

SAP helped a client secure 500 hospital beds in 30 minutes. By using SAP Ariba Discovery, the construction company was able to quickly develop of a temporary hospital outside New York City and source much-needed beds for treating those with COVID-19. Considering how in-demand hospital beds are during this pandemic, this was an incredible feat only made possible cloud-based platforms that offer such extensive visibility across supply networks.

Transparency has always been an important business benefit of ERP and Workforce Management platforms. However, being able to communicate and co-ordinate in real-time is vital when news is developing quickly and responses must be timely.

In response to the huge shifts we are seeing globally across industries, SAP recently hosted a series of virtual forums called 2020 Adapting Strategies in a Changed World.

SAP is here to help and provide assistance for any business struggling to digitally transform and adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances.

Our episode further explored the ideas I addressed here, looking at the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers, supply chains, and patient engagement. We also looked at the intelligent technology solutions that can help mitigate risks across these key industry stakeholders. Watch the on-demand replay from the healthcare session of 2020 Adaptive Strategies in a Changed World.