Field Report: UCLA Health with Michael Pfeffer, MD
June 12, 2020: The one silver-lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it’s accelerated our use of tech in healthcare — a process that many health IT specialists have been working towards since long before the pandemic. In this episode, Bill talks with Dr. Michael Pfeffer, Assistant Vice-Chancellor and CIO for UCLA Health who provides insights into how his organization has dealt with the pandemic. Michael discusses the efforts that UCLA underwent to prepare for the pandemic and how they scaled their telehealth offerings to cater not only for COVID-19 inpatients but also for those with chronic conditions and patients needing preventative care. While health systems are faced with decreased revenue and uncertainty about the future, Michael shares his thoughts on why health IT is needed now more than ever. Michael talks about what health IT should prioritize within this context, especially as we move from the COVID-19 crisis into a potential financial crisis — a landscape in which health IT will be even more critical in ensuring an organization’s success. Michael and Bill then talk about the future of remote work, the need for a vaccine to create a proper roadmap of the future and how UCLA is preparing for a second surge of coronavirus patients. Finally, Michael shares his greatest learning from the pandemic which emphasizes how a relaxation of rules has resulted in an expansion of telehealth.
Key Points From This Episode:
- How medical schools are implementing a number of online features in light of the pandemic.
- To address the pandemic, UCLA first prepared for patient surges.
- UCLA’s use of telehealth to cater for patients.
- Michael talks about how organizations had been scaling towards telehealth pre-COVID-19.
- From chatbots to remote patient monitoring, why COVID-19 accelerated tech in medicine.
- How UCLA adapted their remote-work model; now all IT work is done remotely.
- Why a COVID-19 vaccine is critical to determining future plans.
- Michael’s view on health IT’s focus; consolidate and eliminate redundancy and costs.
- The increased importance of health IT in enabling a health system’s success.
- UCLA’s efforts to keep their patients and caregivers safe.
- How Michael has prepared UCLA to deal with a second surge of COVID-19 patients.
- Michael shares the lessons that he learned from the pandemic.
- The importance of providing both telehealth and in-person services.