Dr Elaine Goodman on What COVID-19 Taught Her About Digital Health Management

Elaine Goodman, MD, MBA, clinical lead for population health management at Mass General Brigham, talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic should impact developments in digital health management going forward.

Elaine Goodman, MD, MBA, clinical lead for population health management at Mass General Brigham, talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected developments in digital health management and how it should impact digital health going forward.

Transcript

What are some lessons you learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that are important to the future of digital health management, outside of a pandemic?

The things that we saw during the pandemic, one of the biggest ones was just that big organizations can move quickly, right? I think we were all amazed at the things we were able to accomplish that we weren't necessarily able to do, maybe for a matter of years, before the pandemic that were getting done in weeks. So I think, for every organization, just to look back and reflect on, "What aspects of that do we want to keep and move forward with?" Obviously, that pace is not sustainable for every project that we want to do. But when we know something is the right thing to do, how do we tap into some version of that urgency or that efficiency to really take things forward?

I think the other thing that was really highlighted during the pandemic was [that] a lot of technology that we use in the pandemic had not changed—it was the same virtual visit platform we had had the week before, but suddenly everyone was using it. I think that goes back, again, to it's so important how we describe and communicate the value of a technology for adoption by both our staff members and our patients. It was the same technology, but suddenly it was really easy for patients and staff to understand why using it was in their best interest. And it doesn't need a pandemic for us to do a better job at doing that with other things.

I think that one of the learnings that, again, was true before the pandemic but was just really highlighted by the experience was [that] we tend to underestimate how much effort we need to put into describing and communicating why we're using a technology and why it's a benefit. If we're able to do more with that, again, it's going to drive staff engagement and patient engagement, which is really what you need to get ultimately to a place where technology is delivering value.

What is the incentive to continue developing health technology at the same speed and level?

We can't expect the same speed of development as we had in the pandemic because, frankly, everybody needs rest. It was too much, right? But I do think that the thing that's going to move us forward is we just took a huge leap in the general awareness and acceptability of bringing technology tools into the relationship with the health care system and the patient. What I think would have taken many years before for patients to understand and pick up, now if they've already done a virtual visit, that really changes how they think about new technologies that come out in the future. So I do think that some of what happened will make it easier for new technologies to be accepted just because of the experience we all share now.