Business resiliency: paving the way for healthcare providers

By Andrew Fox*
Wednesday, 22 July, 2020

Business resiliency: paving the way for healthcare providers

While going through one of the most challenging periods in our lifetimes, the healthcare industry has been under immense pressure to make decisions quickly that deeply affect not only patients, but the safety and wellbeing of workers.

Healthcare managers have had to decide who to keep on the frontline and who can work remotely, and while not everyone in the health industry can work from home, a major factor driving some of these decisions is the technology available.

Many frontline workers have had to face terrible conditions. We’ve all seen the photos of bruised faces due to extended mask-wearing and heard the cases of PPE shortages.The fear many would have felt working on the frontline is unimaginable. I have four healthcare workers in my own family and, with the right technology, two of them could have done their jobs from home rather than being on the physical frontline of the pandemic.

When the country was asked to work from home, IT teams were the ones business leaders turned to. And we really saw IT step forward boldly with advice, direction and action, which helped bring workers into a much safer environment. The amazing can-do attitude of these teams, paired with their ability to expedite digital transformation plans basically overnight in many cases, has been a huge contributor to the continuity of many businesses.

For the industry to best serve its workers, who continue to put the needs of civilians before their own, healthcare providers now need to build on their business continuity plans and focus on business resilience. They need to take advantage of the digital foundation they have established to create more flexible workplaces, improve technology and security, and reassess current operational processes to enable a workforce ready to face any new challenge.

No time to lose

Without notice, the healthcare industry was forced to adjust quickly to new customer engagement methods such as telehealth. One of our healthcare customers said their telehealth engagements rose to a staggering 75 times pre-pandemic volume and are continuing to be a preferred method for many patients. The industry also had to move non-frontline workforces to a remote set-up while ensuring they still had access to the materials they need to do their job effectively, such as private patient medical records and secure company financial information.

For many of these organisations, the speed with which they had to change exposed the limitations of outdated systems and processes, adding to the fear and uncertainty healthcare workers and patients were already facing. This has highlighted the crucial need for a watertight business continuity plan and a long-term business resilience mindset. Without having these in place, healthcare organisations are not just held back by manual IT operations and challenges scaling to meet increased demand, they are holding themselves and their staff back from a much safer alternative.

A consistent experience is key

In recent months, VMware has helped many healthcare customers in Australia and New Zealand to move thousands of office workers and some clinical staff to a work-from-home environment in days, and in some cases in hours. Using cloud-based remote desktop solutions, workers in these organisations were able to settle into a new working routine while maintaining productivity, because their desktop experience at home was consistent with the one they had in the office. This resulted in business continuity for their organisations, positive flow-on effects for customers, and increased safety for workers and their families. In some cases, it has meant higher-risk family members haven’t had to be moved away from relatives working in healthcare, and that many could continue to work from the comfort of their homes without fear for their personal health and safety.

The road ahead

The current crisis has taught the healthcare industry more lessons than they could have imagined about preparedness and the need for a consistent employee experience. While some organisations have been able to adapt better than others and some have hit speed bumps along the way, there’s still huge opportunity across the board to achieve business resilience and create a future-ready workforce.

As civilians are quickly becoming accustomed to new digital processes — such as telehealth services and virtual hospitals — the time is now for organisations to evolve their systems and processes. And while there will never be a way to truly repay frontline workers for their dedication, putting plans in place to implement technology that reduces risks to staff and patients in the future is sure a step in the right direction.

*Andrew Fox is the Director of Business Mobility and End User Computing at VMware ANZ.

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