A Pandemic Melts Traditional Healthcare Silos, Shining a Light on How to Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity
Written by Angie Franks, Chief Executive Officer, ABOUT
The rapid spread of COVID-19 in early 2020 inundated numerous hospitals and health systems, especially those at the epicenter of the pandemic. More than a year later, the painful images of overwhelmed providers and critically ill patients remain fresh in our collective consciousness.
On a positive note, this disruption and change inspired innovation as health systems and public health officials watched, learned, and proactively adapted. Those innovations, too, have left an indelible impression on us — and the realization that together we can overcome adversity.
A prime example of this occurred in Arizona, where leaders from health systems and public health agencies quickly realized that responding successfully to an impending emergency required an unprecedented level of collaboration. Key public and private stakeholders, including long-time competitors, joined forces, and in less than two weeks the Arizona Surge Line, a statewide initiative to load balance COVID-19 patients, was designed, built, and launched.
When the pandemic arrived in full force, Arizona’s healthcare infrastructure was ready. With a single phone call to the Surge Line, any provider in the state could request the transfer of a COVID-19 patient to a higher level of care. The Surge Line has been hugely successful, resulting in thousands of transfers since March 2020 and garnering rave reviews from participating hospitals.
Above all, many lives were saved by the Surge Line team’s ability to swiftly coordinate advanced care for critically ill individuals. Even now, the Arizona team is adapting to emerging issues, including an acute staffing crisis, ensuring that patients continue to enjoy rapid access to crucial services.
This initiative could not have happened without the melting of traditional healthcare and community silos. It also demanded innovative thinking and technologies, in support of a bold response to a crisis of historic proportions.
Making a difference across the country
In the wake of COVID, the Central Logic team and our technology continue to play a pivotal role, and not only in Arizona, but with a growing number of health systems that rely on our industry-leading access and orchestration solution to help them address chronic, deep-rooted issues — in particular, the fragmented, reactionary, and inefficient use of healthcare resources.
Consider how these issues continue to impact healthcare consumers today. It starts with getting an appointment, which can take weeks or even months. Compounding matters, intra- or interfacility transfers, including transitions to post-acute care, tend to be slow and disjointed. In many cases, patient care is further delayed by difficulties in arranging the appropriate transportation. All of this potentially detracts from clinical outcomes and the patient experience, while negatively affecting operational efficiency and bottom-line results.
Partnering with Central Logic, health systems are addressing these issues head-on through a collaborative ecosystem that empowers them to simultaneously achieve:
Simplified access to care — In Arizona the transfer of a COVID-19 patient to a higher level of care takes just one call and about 30 minutes to acceptance. Similarly, health systems using the Central Logic access and orchestration solution can offer referring providers fast one-call access to a full complement of services, wherever and whenever they’re needed.
Coordinated bed placement — The Arizona Surge Line team is able to identify open COVID-19 beds at virtually any hospital in the state. This very same technology gives Central Logic clients system-wide, vendor-agnostic visibility, in real time, to staffed and non-staffed beds, contributing to faster acceptance of transfer requests.
On-call provider scheduling — Central Logic gives health system access centers real-time visibility to the calendars of every provider across the system, enabling them to quickly secure the appropriate specialist for each transferred patient. Besides expediting transfer request acceptance, streamlined on-call scheduling helps ensure that patients receive the right care at the right location by the right provider, without delay.
Efficient and effective transportation — Securing timely medical transport can be a huge challenge, whether it involves the cross-state transfer of a COVID-19 patient in Arizona or the transfer of a stroke patient across a health system. Part of the Central Logic solution, Intelligent Transport automates and accelerates both emergent and non-emergent inter-facility transfers.
Coordination of post-acute care — A large gap that persists in patient care orchestration is the transition from the hospital inpatient setting to post-acute care (PAC). Central Logic automates the referral process from acute to PAC, tapping into an active, curated network of more than 50,000 PAC providers. Placement confirmations that once took hours or even days are now accomplished in an average of 30 minutes.
For patients and their providers, these and other coordinated capabilities reduce time to care, create greater predictability throughout the patient journey, and help ensure optimal clinical outcomes. In addition, dynamic dashboards presenting real-time analytics allow health system leaders to continuously measure performance and make needed improvements.
Patients and providers are not the only ones who benefit from an access and orchestration solution spanning the care continuum. So do health systems. Currently, 62 health systems, comprising 624 facilities, utilize Central Logic’s access and orchestration solution. In 2020 Central Logic enabled these health systems to successfully transfer or receive nearly 2 million patients. By streamlining access and care coordination, our health system clients have realized additional revenue — and an average break-even after three months — through increased referrals, better patient retention, and improved operational efficiency.
In summary, all of us have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. But, thanks to the resilience of the human spirit and innovation, we have also learned how to turn that disruption and change into innovation, leading to effortless healthcare access for patients and the coordination of key resources for referring providers. These innovations are now delivering a high-value impact for health systems aiming to build a sustainable future. I invite you to join the movement!