How technology has been key in Cooper’s COVID-19 care

Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli.

Cooper University Health Care was named as one of the three health systems in the state appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy to manage the COVID-19 response, overseeing the efforts in the Southern region.

From the start, co-CEO Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli said technology played a key role.

On the inpatient side, there was a lot done to track and monitor patient volume and bed accessibility in hospitals and health systems in and around South Jersey, he said. Cooper also developed a host of video and audio capabilities so patients could be remotely monitored.

“We created a platform to track patient volume and monitor the availability of critical care beds across different health systems and hospitals in South Jersey,” he said. “We developed real-time in-patient monitoring and critical care units, implemented remote control video and two-way audio, so that patients could be remotely monitored. We developed a triage system to help communicate to emergency department staff when they were arriving with COVID-19 patients.”

Technology played a large role on the outpatient side, too — starting with telemedicine.

Many touchless experiences were launched so patients could complete their paperwork, their check-in and their co-pays. And a lot was able to be done through the hospital’s mobile app, keeping patients from having to touch devices that weren’t their own and having them stay safe and feel safe, Mazzarelli said.

“We had a little bit of telemedicine, but this really had us increase its use, both outpatient and inpatient — so that we could have certain specialists talk to patients without having to be in the same room,” he said.

Mazzarelli said Cooper was quick to pivot to a number of programs — including iPads and in-room audio and video monitoring — that allowed patients to more easily communicate with their families,

The move paid off in many ways.

For starters, patients had a better means to communicate with their health care providers, Mazzarelli said.

“The better the relationship for those that provide care and for those that receive it, the better the outcomes,” he said. “It’s better for those providing the care. It’s safer. It lowers costs.”

And with better charting tools, online consultations and other means of technology that help support a clinical decision, Mazzarelli said the chance of error was reduced considerably.

“We were able to look at ourselves, pull quality reports and analyze things to improve outcomes and all that helps us be more efficient,” he said. “That allows us to see more patients or see them in a way that better satisfies them — and we can do this all through tracking data.”

The most important thing?

“It helps us improve health care quality, improve safety and improve our interaction with patients so their satisfaction in their outcomes and communication with them, ties into quality and safety,” Mazzarelli said. “That’s always the goal of technology in health care.”