How COVID-19 opened healthcare's digital front door
The coronavirus pandemic brought with it tragedy. At the same time it brought ingenuity from medical professionals. Although the virus’ first wave strained healthcare systems, doctors continued to work tirelessly to contain the deadly pathogen. State and federal agencies encouraged new innovations to combat the spread of the virus, resulting in the creation of symptom checking services, contact tracing programs, and the acceleration of telehealth.
While these virtual resources for patients existed before the pandemic, they have become crucial components of our healthcare infrastructure in a time of emergency. With waves of COVID-19 sweeping the United States, patients need effortless ways to seek answers. Easy access points to the healthcare system are needed for all types of patient needs, whether it’s a virtual checkup, in-person testing site locations, or wait times at emergency rooms. To get to these life-saving resources, patients need a “digital front door.”
Outside of healthcare, the most successful companies build infrastructure for customers to access their services. When someone turns on an iPhone, or orders a product off Amazon, they enter an integrated system connecting them to where they want to go. These solutions make the experience as frictionless as possible; Amazon, for example, offers a 1-click “Buy it now” option. We find these seamless experiences in many areas of our lives, including shopping, transportation, groceries, and even dating.
The healthcare industry has lagged behind on such innovation, finding itself at the center of partisan showdowns, bureaucratic red tape, and an opaque transactional system leaving everyday individuals at a loss for what their care should cost them.
Although a steady stream of patients need to engage with their healthcare providers, the current system is too confusing for them to find the right entrypoint. Patients are forced to leave messages asking doctors to call them, inquiring about test results, or otherwise seeking care. When patients go online, they are flooded by a sea of conflicting and confusing information. How many of us have searched for symptoms on the internet to be left more anxious and uncertain about our health, what to do, and how much it will cost?
With the cooperation of private sector and government actors arising from the pandemic, the healthcare industry is at a unique point to change the patient experience. New “digital front door” solutions allow patients to seamlessly navigate their healthcare experience from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need for continuous work and outreach to providers for answers, while expediting timelines for next care steps. With the limitless capabilities of the internet, it is a natural and necessary migration for healthcare to offer these digital experiences.
Health systems have historically struggled to harness the power of digital technology to improve access to care, due to the influence of legacy technologies, disparate and inaccurate patient, provider, and facility data, and missing infrastructure to enable a connected patient experience, particularly for online appointment scheduling. The complex dynamic between providers, health insurers, and patients has yielded an opaque financial system with no standardization and hundreds of variations of pricing models, making transparency difficult.
In the face of these challenges, however, innovative technologies emerged to fill the gaps towards a more connected, digital experience. Interoperability solutions like Redox have made patient (and other) data exchange easier. Provider data management and aggregation solutions like Kyruus and Ribbon Health are making provider data easier to access, more accurate, and simpler to build online scheduling around.
It is also easier to electronically access any individual’s health insurance information via integrators like Eligible. Digital front door companies like Clearstep are enabling patients to more easily navigate the healthcare system by engaging them in an AI chat to understand their symptoms and match them to the most clinically relevant and convenient care options.
By marrying virtual triage with price transparency and online scheduling, Clearstep is building upon the aforementioned innovations in interoperability, provider data management, etc. to create a truly connected experience for accessing care. While many of these technologies were already gaining traction before the pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated progress towards advancing them and building the connected digital experience patients deserve.
The response to COVID-19 demonstrated that Americans across all age groups are willing to engage with digital technologies to find and access care. Hundreds of healthcare organizations, including the CDC, released triage chatbots used by millions.
Teladoc and Amwell have reported tremendous increases in virtual visit volume. Teladoc is averaging 15,000 patient visits a day in the U.S., 50% higher than in February. Amwell has seen a 350% increase from the normal expected volume of calls. This change in healthcare consumer behavior should inspire confidence in healthcare organizations to continue investing in ways to make it easier for patients to have transparent, digital, and easy access to care.
Just as scientists study coronavirus and prepare to roll out vaccines, technology and healthcare companies continue to navigate how to best respond to outbreaks. If the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic accelerated healthcare’s transition to digital healthcare, then the next stages will shape how patients continue to access vital healthcare resources.
Check Point: Securing the future of enterprise IT
Cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point was founded in 1993 with a mission to secure ‘everything,’ and that includes the cloud. Conscious that nothing remains static in the digital world, the company prides itself on an ability to integrate new technology with its solutions. Across almost three decades in operation, Check Point, with its team of over 3,500 experts, has become adept at protecting networks, endpoints, mobile, IoT, and cloud.
“The pandemic has been somewhat of an accelerator in the evolution of cyber risk,” explains Erez Yarkoni, Global VP for Cloud Business. “We had remote workers and cloud adoption a long time beforehand, but now the volume and surface area is far greater.” Formerly a CIO for several big-name telcos before joining Check Point in 2019, Yarkoni considers the cloud to be “part of [his] heritage” and one of modern IT’s most valuable tools.
Check Point has three important ‘product families’, Quantum, CloudGuard, and Harmony, with each one providing another layer of holistic IT protection:
- Quantum: secures enterprise networks from sophisticated cyber attacks
- CloudGuard: acts as a scalable and unified cloud-native security platform for the protection of any cloud
- Harmony: protects remote users and devices from cyber threats that might compromise organisational data
However, more than just providing security, Yarkoni emphasises the need for software to be proactive and minimise the possibility of threats in the first instance. This is something Check Point assuredly delivers, “the industry recognises that preventing, not just detecting, is crucial. Check Point has one platform that gives customers the end-to-end cover they need; they don't have to go anywhere else. That level of threat prevention capability is core to our DNA and across all three product lines.”
In many ways, Check Point’s solutions’ capabilities have actually converged to meet the exact working requirements of contemporary enterprise IT. As more companies embark on their own digital transformation journeys in the wake of COVID-19, the inevitability of unforeseen threats increases, which also makes forming security-based partnerships essential. Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) sought out Check Point for this very reason when it was in the process of selecting Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider. “Let's be clear: Azure is a secure cloud, but when you operate in a cloud you need several layers of security and governance to prevent mistakes from becoming risks,” Yarkoni clarifies.
The partnership is a distinctly three-way split, with each bringing its own core expertise and competencies. More than that, Check Point, HOOPP and Microsoft are all invested in deepening their understanding of each other at an engineering and developmental level. “Both of our organisations (Check Point and Microsoft) are customer-obsessed: we look at the problem from the eyes of the customer and ask, ‘Are we creating value?’” That kind of focus is proving to be invaluable in the digital era, when the challenges and threats of tomorrow remain unpredictable. In this climate, only the best protected will survive and Check Point is standing by, ready to help.
“HOOPP is an amazing organisation,” concludes Yarkoni. “For us to be successful with a customer and be selected as a partner is actually a badge of honor. It says, ‘We passed a very intense and in-depth inspection by very smart people,’ and for me that’s the best thing about working with organisations like HOOPP.”