“It’s easy and safe for our team to use,” Mansour says. “We have dashboards and visualizations that streamline the workflow and simplify data sharing, and everything is automatically backed up and encrypted at a level appropriate for government.”
Cost savings are realized through the tool’s built-in scalability, and through what the city doesn’t have to do when it comes to the app’s day-to-day maintenance. “We don’t have to ask staff to devote time to doing updates, because that’s all taken care of by the service provider. And if we need to expand,” as demand for the app grows, “we can do that rapidly without adding servers or hardware,” Mansour says.
LEARN: Find out how state governments have addressed legacy IT in a time of crisis.
Real-Time Tracking of Hospital Resources
Cloud-based applications gave Chicago the means to rethink how it was collecting data, and the same is true for the state of Washington, where retired Navy Vice Admiral Dr. Raquel Bono was recently named director of its COVID-19 Health System Response Management pandemic team.
The Washington State Department of Health initially struggled to monitor hospital resources as COVID-19 hit the Pacific Northwest, Bono says. Many frontline caregivers were already using an application that tracked bed availability within their own hospitals, but there was no easy way to tell if a facility’s staffing was sufficient or whether it was adequately equipped with ventilators and personal protective equipment.
“The question for us at the state level was, how are we going to meet the surge when it comes? We needed a way to collect that information to understand our capacity,” Bono says.
In the end, the department worked with Microsoft to develop a solution they call the Washington Healthcare Emergency and Logistics Tracking Hub (WA HEALTH). Built on the Microsoft Power Platform, which runs on Azure, the system allows clinicians and equipment managers to easily update data on patient numbers and hospital assets through a web-based portal or smartphone. Those figures are then pushed to a number of custom dashboards where health experts can review them at their convenience in nearly real time.
Bono says the cloud-based system demonstrated its value in the early months of the pandemic by helping the state’s intensive care units adapt to patient demand efficiently and effectively. “It’s exactly what we needed,” she says. “It’s proved to be a really good IT solution for a really difficult problem.”
READ MORE: How can state IT leaders navigate a world changed by the coronavirus?