What can a software developer do to protect the front-lines in a pandemic?

Like most physicians, I have been trying to keep up to date on the clinical science of the COVID-19 pandemic while also tracking lay news resources.  Watching the number of patients infected, hospitalized, and dying is hard to fathom and deeply disturbing. At Enli we have done our best to contribute to the fight through our development of the COVID-19 Patient Monitoring program.

Two weeks ago, a second urgent need became apparent: something must be done to protect care teams and their patients when healthcare workers are exposed to the virus.  I was shocked by TV coverage of doctors and nurses working in hospitals with inadequate personal protective equipment, often without the availability of testing to determine whether they had contracted the disease.  And again, it was an Enli customer who came to us with an idea about how Central Worklist could be used to mitigate the effects of workforce exposures.  We have responded accordingly and today I am pleased to announce availability of the COVID-19 Halthcare Personnel Exposure Tracking program.

From the start we recognized the seriousness of problem. But I did not understand the potential magnitude until I read that 700 Henry Ford Health System employees had tested positive for COVID-19 in Modern Healthcare. As of April 4, Henry Ford had tested 2,400 of its 32,000 employees; so far 28% of those tested have the virus and 20% will require hospitalization.

Beyond Henry Ford, MH notes that more than 2,000 Detroit healthcare workers have been sent home due to the virus. Beaumont Health has 1,500 of its 38,000 employees staying home because they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – 3.9% of its workforce.

On March 26, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that every major US city needs to be prepared for surges like we have seen in New York. Detroit is a proof-point in his forecast. Certainly, the healthcare industry must do everything it can to monitor and care for patient populations. But if we don’t also protect healthcare workers from infection, the system itself can collapse under the sheer force of the patient surge.  Inappropriate handling of exposed personnel exposes their colleagues and their patients to unacceptable risk.

What can be done to ensure that the healthcare workforce remains safe as the tide of this virus rises? We have heard cries for more PPE, more tests, more hospital beds, and more ventilators. But what contribution can healthcare information technology make?

Though it may not have generated headlines, technology can play a vital role in monitoring the health status of the hospital workforce whether individuals are away from work under surveillance, recovering from COVID infection, or preparing to return to work.

That is the call we answered two weeks ago today. Like COVID-19 Patient Monitoring, COVID-19 HCP Exposure Tracking is a cloud-based coordination tool for health systems to monitor contact exposure of their healthcare personnel that are at work or self-isolating at home. It classifies risk based on CDC guidance and provides decision support on work restrictions, testing, and monitoring of exposed personnel.  Staff are tracked from exposure through end-of-monitoring and return to work.

We have created a new page on the Enli web site to share the CDC guidance we’ve employed to create this new program, as well as its capabilities. And, once again, we are making the HCP Exposure Tracking program available to our current customers at no cost throughout the duration of the pandemic.

If you have questions about deploying either of our COVID-19 programs, please reach out to your Customer Success representative. If you are not a current customer, please contact me directly. I will do what I can to help.