The scene in hospitals is pure madness, exhausted doctors and nurses scrambling room to room facing down crisis after crisis. With such intensity, old rules are thrown out. Having clean new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for each infectious patient is out the window. Health care heroes are putting their lives at risk to save the sick – too often without the tools and protections they need.
Microsoft and solutions provider partner KiZAN Technologies are working tirelessly to help. Microsoft kicked the effort off with Microsoft Virtual Rounding using Microsoft Teams. “Hospital and emergency room providers make dozens, and often hundreds of ‘rounds’ per day. These quick check-ins on patients are intended to provide a status check on how the patient is doing and ensure that the patient’s concerns are addressed. While rounding is an essential practice to ensure patients are being monitored by multiple types of providers, they represent a huge drain on PPE, because for each visit, from each provider, a new mask, and new set of gloves must be used,” explained Max Fritz, Teams Technical Specialist, Microsoft Health & Life Science, who created the solution. “But…what if patients could still have frequent check-ins with all necessary providers, while not draining the hospital of PPE, and perhaps even exposing providers to less risk of exposure to COVID-19? Allowing for Virtual Rounding as an option may help reduce risk and drain on PPE.”
Virtual Rounding is as it sounds. Instead of personally seeing each patient, risking the safety of the PPE and health care provider, these visits, in fact the rounds themselves are conducted as much as possible virtually – through Microsoft Teams video. A virtual visit does not contaminate PPE, expose patients or health workers to the virus, and speeds rounds so doctors can give their critical time focus to the most ill.
“By enabling secure video conferencing through Teams, direct patient contact is minimized, protecting the frontline worker and reducing the risk of spread. Utilization of video conferencing also reduces the demand on personal protective equipment which is in short supply,” KiZAN explained. “Virtual Rounding allows healthcare organizations to provide voice and video-based health consultations with COVID-19 positive patients. These video-based consultations allow doctors and staff to reduce their usage of necessary PPE and to also reduce the risk of exposure, providing potentially life-saving functionality. iPads or similar tablet devices are placed in patient rooms, and providers can then interact with the patients via the solution from approved locations and devices outside of the patient’s room.”
Virtual Rounding also helps infected doctors continue to serve. “There are doctors out there that are COVID-19 positive. One facility is going to use Virtual Rounding to allow those doctors to continue to assess and help patients as long as they are well enough to keep working,” Bryan Cornette, Director of Communications and Collaboration at KiZAN Technologies pointed out.
Teams Virtual Rounding, as great as the technology may be, is only of benefit if it implemented and properly used. That is where KiZAN, a leader in Teams implementation services, steps in. KiZAN is working with overwhelmed hospitals, implementing Virtual Rounding and training health care workers on conducting virtual, safe, and effective rounds and visits. KiZAN is also developing new features for Team Virtual Rounding.
Tackling the Broward County Cruise Ship COVID-19 Crisis
The first hospital helped is in Broward County, Florida. Broward Health hospital was charged with dealing with ill patients who had been languishing and suffering on cruise ships anchored off the Florida coast. “We have worked with over well 10 hospitals so far. We are being contacted by new hospitals every day. Our first hospital we deployed was to prep Broward Health to be able to accept the COVID-19 positive passengers of the two cruise ships that were sitting off of the Florida coast,” said KiZAN’s Cornette. “We deployed this four days after Max Fritz from Microsoft created the Virtual Rounds solution. Since then we have in conjunction with Max helped create a V2 of Virtual Rounds to change some of the behaviors as well as add in patient visits for family and friends while they are quarantined.”
In the Broward case, KiZAN employee Justin Kobel spent more than 50 hours over two weeks getting one hospital fully up to speed. Total KiZAN time on this and other projects was some 100 hours with 3-4 KiZAN employees – so far.
“A heartfelt thank you to the many partners who have helped us with emergency licensing, equipment, bandwidth and consulting expertise to support our front-line heroes with virtual round solutions. You are helping save lives and precious equipment…KiZAN Technologies has been amazing. Thanks to all of you.
— Jack King, Chief Technology Officer, Broward Health
How Microsoft said Virtual Rounding Looks to the Patient
- Each hospital/emergency room is set-up with a laptop or tablet with Microsoft Teams.
- Before a new patient enters the room, the nurse or other staff will press Join Meeting.
- When the patient enters the room, they will see a meeting screen with only them inside. This screen will notify them when a provider drops in.
- When the provider drops in, the provider and the patient can engage one-on-one with secure audio and video. When they are done, the session will end, and the screen will go back to only the patient.
- Additional providers may drop in throughout the patient’s time in the room, and the patient will be notified as they drop in. If the meeting is ended on the patient side, providers can still ring the device to bring the patient back into the meeting.
KiZAN’s Offer of Help Stands
Although it is currently working with some ten hospitals, KiZAN is just getting started. “We are doing this for any healthcare facility that will use the solution to reduce PPE and frontline healthcare worker interactions with COVID-19 positive patients at no cost. We do have some qualifying questions with the main one being my team needs to have hands on access to deploy. When we get hands on access we can deploy in about a half day of effort, when we have to shoulder surf the hospital staff and tell them what to click it has taken us 2 days or more. Debugging without direct access is very difficult,” Cornette said. “We have a sign up page for anyone that is interested: https://info.kizan.com/virtual-rounding-using-microsoft-teams-download.”
KiZAN’s Life-saving Results So Far
The Teams Virtual Rounding application is a heath care crisis revolution. “Virtual Rounding allows healthcare organizations to provide voice and video-based health consultations with COVID-19 positive patients. These video-based consultations allow doctors and staff to reduce their usage of necessary PPE and to also reduce the risk of exposure, providing potentially life-saving functionality. iPads or similar tablet devices are placed in patient rooms, and providers can then interact with the patients via the solution from approved locations and devices outside of the patient’s room,” KiZAN said.
Here is how Microsoft Describes the Rounding Solution’s Benefits:
- “Through the use of Virtual Rounding through Microsoft Teams, providers may be physically exposed to fewer patients per day, which may limit their risk factors for contracting COVID-19 (and other communicable ailments) and could keep these providers able to care for patients longer.
- Through the use of Virtual Rounding in Microsoft Teams, the use of PPE may go down. This could ensure PPE remains in hospitals for crucial situations and help reduce future risks to providers.
- Through the use of Virtual Rounding in Microsoft Teams, providers may spend less time walking between patient rooms, increasing their efficiency during this time of increased demand during COVID-19.”
Here are Specific Benefits Achieved by KiZAN:
- “KiZAN deployed the solution to Broward Health to prepare for the first infected cruise line passengers disembarking in Florida.
- The solution has been deployed to over 3,500 active seats
- On average, Virtual Rounding eliminates at least 3 in-person visits per-day per-patient room, limiting exposure
- On average, 6 pieces of PPE per day per room are saved.
- In one month, KiZAN’s Virtual Rounding implementations will have saved 180,000 pieces of PPE during the pandemic (based off rooms covered in the first 20 days of KiZAN being engaged with Microsoft on this effort).
- KiZAN continues to onboard approximately 4-5 healthcare facilities per week.
- KiZAN has submitted 100’s of lines of code to the Microsoft solution and provided architectural assistance to the Microsoft team iterating the solution.”
All KiZAN Hands on Deck
KiZAN as a company is all in on getting this work done. “Since that first call came in, and we put the word out internally that we were going to help, a lot of KiZAN team members have been filling every open gap in their days, along with nights and weekends with this effort. Beyond the technical team that helped Broward; Jason Mills and Jenn Browning have been key resources in these efforts. Jason in writing constantly changing code and Teams Bots to make Virtual Rounding work better and Jenn helping to deploy and answer questions from across the country with Jayson, Justin, and the rest of the team,” Cornette explained. “We have people from many teams asking what they can learn to be able to help. The effort I have seen my KiZAN family put into this effort is incredible and makes me extremely proud of them and everything they are doing to help in this trying time.”
CoreView Lends a Hand
KiZAN has been leveraging CoreView’s free Teams Adoption and Learning solutions for training. “We have been sharing the link to the video library with the healthcare facilities. The link to your library lets us provide them access to the videos without having to go through CoreView tenant config and deployment tasks. Our goal is to help as many hospitals as possible. We want to get in, out, and on to the next one as fast as possible,” Cornette explained.
Virtual Rounding Built for All
While the Virtual Rounding implementations done by KiZAN are Teams-based, the concept is broader. “Virtual Rounding is designed to be a ‘framework’ to showcase a quick and simple way for these providers to interact with patients quickly through Teams; it’s ‘turnkey’ in some cases, but also serves as an open sourced repository (developed by Microsoft, KiZAN and other parties) to refine this use case,” said Justin Kobel, Modern Workplace Architect for KiZAN.
Learn How You Can Help – or Get Help Yourself
Learn more about KiZAN’s virtual rounding assistance by going to the information page: https://info.kizan.com/virtual-rounding-using-microsoft-teams-download.
KiZAN services are available to hospitals and other solution providers who want to help. “If you, or someone you know in a healthcare facility, is interested, we will help get Virtual Rounding deployed. If you (they) own and have Teams deployed, my team will provide the guidance and services to get it deployed for no cost. It is rare that an IT solutions company can assist in times like this, but this is something we CAN, SHOULD and WILL DO for those in need,” Bryan Cornette posted on LinkedIn. “If you are a company like ours and want us to help ramp up your staff to provide these services at scale, please reach out, we will assist anyone who want to help.”
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.