An Entrepreneurial Mindset to Health IT During COVID and Beyond

July 27, 2020
Three lessons learned at MVP Health Care since the onset of the pandemic

COVID-19 forced the healthcare industry through five to six years of technology transformation in a matter of weeks. With a significant portion of employees across the industry now working from home, the rapid adoption of telemedicine at large and the increased importance of using population health data to inform policy, healthcare today already looks very different than healthcare pre-COVID-19. With the goal of ensuring access to care, MVP Health Care – a regional, not-for-profit health insurer in New York and Vermont – jumped into action at the start of the pandemic with an entrepreneurial-like response to stand up programs and implement policies to assist their members during the pandemic. This ability to move the needle quickly and provide a system of care built around each member would not have been possible without MVP’s culture of innovation, the flexibility of being a regional not-for-profit health plan (as opposed to a large national carrier) and the investments MVP has made in technology over the past couple of years.

Here are three lessons MVP learned during this process.

-         Telemedicine is here to stay. Technology is not always readily accepted in healthcare, but because of COVID-19, the adoption rate for telemedicine has skyrocketed. Leading telemedicine company Amwell shared with CNBC that it had seen a 1,000 percent increase in visits due to coronavirus, and in some places, closer to 4,000 percent. At MVP Health Care, we stood up a brand-new virtual ER offering in just days – a feat that, if not propelled by COVID-19, would normally have taken months.

-          Cloud computing is critical to business continuity during a crisis. Over the past three years, MVP and its leadership has worked hard to embrace change, particularly as it relates to IT. As a cloud-first company, MVP was positioned well to swiftly send over 90 percent of its employees to a work-from-home setting at the start of the pandemic without missing a beat in productivity. This would not have been possible had MVP kept its antiquated, previous on-premise solution. MVP migrated to Microsoft Office 365 two years ago and has not looked back. The early implementation of the technology allowed for a smooth transition into telework as the company now regularly works in new ways. For example, employees now collaborate over Teams via video vs the antiquated phone call.

-          Simplification and standardization of technology is critical. Before its standardization to Microsoft products, MVP had purchased and implemented hundreds of point solutions on many different technology programs. Since then, MVP has focused on simplifying and standardizing its technologies by investing in Dynamics 365 for its Customer Relationship Management solution (see case study for more information). As one of the first companies in the Capital Region of New York with over 1,000 employees to send its staff home, these investments were essential to our ability to quickly transition employees to working from home while ensuring our ability to continue serving our members during COVID-19.

Looking to the future and the ‘new normal,’ organizations must put procedures in place in preparation for the next pandemic, which will, one day, happen again. We should continue to learn from our experiences with COVID-19, and leverage those lessons to work toward a future that is healthier and more prepared to meet the next crisis early on. An entrepreneurial mindset backed with the technology infrastructure to support the rapid adoption of new tools has allowed MVP to deliver on its promise to members of “health insurance built around me.” For the industry at large, this approach will only improve healthcare’s ability to tackle the challenges of the future while better serving communities today.

  Michael Della Villa is the Chief Information Officer and Head of Shared Services at MVP Health Care.

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