Why Every Company Is A Healthcare Company

Timon LeDain | April 21, 2021 | 7 Min Read

As we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19, we're seeing companies from an array of industries behave more like healthcare organizations. We speak to Macadamian's VP of Customer Solutions to get his insights on how the pandemic is creating this shift.

We sit down—virtually—with Macadamian’s VP of Customer Solutions, Timon LeDain, to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has made many industries think like the healthcare industry. LeDain also offers his insights on how the pandemic is speeding up the digital transformation of not only the healthcare industry, but also others.

Finally, we look to the future, and consider what digital solutions will remain with us once the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.

Macadamian: What has the COVID-19 pandemic done to change how care is delivered for organizations in the healthcare space?

LeDain: In traditional healthcare spaces such as hospitals and clinics, the pandemic brought a need to find alternatives for face-to-face sessions.

And while telehealth technology has been around for a decade, its adoption was finally unlocked by the global pandemic. The government finally addressed the reimbursement roadblocks to allow clinicians to charge for a phone or virtual visit. Previously you couldn’t. Doctors would only get paid for seeing patients face-to-face.

That’s all changed now.

Macadamian: How about outside the traditional healthcare space? How has the pandemic turned non-healthcare companies into, essentially, healthcare companies?

LeDain: For non-healthcare companies, governments have mandated organizations to have their staff and visitors complete health attestation forms prior to entering the premises. This has turned non-healthcare companies into, effectively healthcare companies. All of a sudden, these companies have to maintain a record of their staff and visitors for symptoms and other exposure factors, to mitigate any potential risk of COVID-19 spreading across the organization.

Macadamian: How are these non-healthcare organizations dealing with putting the health and safety of their workers first?

LeDain: When a company is not used to storing employee health data, but all of a sudden, has to store and potentially report on this data for governance reasons, it puts the organization into a bit of a difficult position. This information is considered protected health information in the U.S., and personal information in Canada which is covered by a number of regional privacy laws for which a data breach would have significant liability implications.

And not every organization is equipped to securely store and manage this type of information. It’s why organizations like Macadamian are sought out to manage this healthcare-related data on behalf of these customers.

Macadamian: Let’s take a look at the media production industry, for example, where employees have no choice but to work in close proximity. How are employers keeping their teams safe in these environments?

LeDain: As a result of COVID-19, media production initially came to a halt. Production stopped on documentaries, movies, and new TV shows and upcoming seasons couldn’t be produced. And then shortly into the pandemic—within six months—governments decided companies could start filming again as long as they put in place a process of screening staff and crew each day.

Insurance companies then quickly mandated these screening rules as well to mitigate the risk posed by the pandemic. These media production companies wanted customizable solutions using a single tool that could be deployed quickly and scale for small productions with crews of less than 50 to large studio productions needing hundreds of screenings per day. The best way to deliver that is through a subscription-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The self-service approach with a SaaS solution makes it cost effective to scale and deploy across an entire industry segment, which really helped get media production back up and running safely in Canada.

Macadamian: The pandemic has shifted how many of us work. Working from home is the norm for many employees now. But for those who still have to go to a job site, what is the biggest challenge they face amid this pandemic?

LeDain: Going from pen and paper to digital.

From the onset, the goal for many organizations was to keep COVID-19 out. Think of long-term care homes, which house some of the most vulnerable populations. They first had to restrict then control facility access, where everyone would be screened for COVID-19 risk before entering. Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms—or those who might have traveled or had been in contact with someone who is COVID positive—would not be allowed to enter the facility.

This screening process was done through a form you’d have to fill out at the beginning of the day. And as with many solutions, it started as a pen-and-paper based form. It then evolved into a digital application that could be completed on a mobile device in less than a minute.

It represented a classic example of digital transformation that was accelerated due to an urgent health driven business need with significant consequences if it wasn’t achieved.

Macadamian: How are companies balancing confidential information with the well-being of workers amid this pandemic?

LeDain: You’re being asked to give up more information for the sake of everyone’s health at work. In the pre-pandemic days, if you wanted to take a sick day, you’d call in and say you’re taking the day off because you were not feeling well. No details beyond that were needed or given. Today, when you complete a health attestation digital form, you’re asked about your symptoms and travel details. We would have considered this information to be private in the past. But in the given climate, we’re willing to make a privacy tradeoff to stop the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. We still expect our information to be used and managed appropriately though!

Macadamian: Are there any specific technologies that are being used to keep employees safe?

LeDain: The smartphone. It’s a personal device, and it’s always on you. We have government-mandated tracing apps that people have deployed on their phones.

In addition to that, we have RFID tags, which also help with contact tracing. RFID tags are devices you wear on your belt or in your pocket. They detect when you’re in proximity to another colleague. This is helpful during a pandemic.

So a number of different technologies that have been developed are complementary to one another and can offer different levels of protection depending on the needs of the sector and the requirement for workers to work closely together.

Macadamian: Once the majority of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, will this technology still be needed to keep workplaces safe?

LeDain: Some things we’ll no longer need. Online questionnaires on symptoms prior to entering a workplace will go by the wayside. Apps that help us with our curbside pickup will probably stick. There’s a lot of conveniences associated with having your groceries delivered, for example.

What’s interesting about digital transformation is that, prior to the pandemic, it happened very slowly in the healthcare space. Many industries were averse to new technologies. But now we’re seeing companies try different solutions out and develop multiple iterations to deliver ultimate value.

We can deliver significant value through digital solutions that I think we previously would not have been able to because of roadblocks that were just artificially put in our place. I don’t think we’re going to forget the positive lessons we’re learning amid this pandemic.

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