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Clinics face unique challenges in ensuring the safety of their patients, particularly during the current pandemic where location, volume and throughput challenges present new complexities in healthcare delivery.

WWT helped a large healthcare provider of specialty care across over 2,000 locations nationwide ensure that their clinics were in compliance with all CDC and CMS guidelines. The solution started with Meraki Smart Surveillance Cameras as a way getting eyes on the clinic's lobbies — which represent a high traffic setting where patients come in contact with one another. The stream from those cameras flowed back to a display monitor that allows staff to surveil the lobbies and ensure mask compliance and social distancing. We then helped implement a self-service kiosk for patients to complete a health survey which generates a health score to identify vulnerability and infection risk. The health score data also flowed back to the display monitor for  clinicians and staff to enable rapid patient prioritization and intervention accordingly.

We interview Mike Gregory, Sr. Consulting Systems Engineer and Damon Howell, Consulting Systems Engineer, who helped the customer design, test, overcome technical and operational challenges and ultimately finalize the solution for deployment.

Healthcare experts Q&A

Kait: Mike, take us through how this got started.
Mike: The Chief Operating Officer had an ask of clinical operations: how can they comply with the CDC guidelines to ensure patient safety on the treatment floors and waiting areas? If you look at patients in these clinics, the comorbidities that they have are completely in sync with what the CDC lists for high-risk vulnerabilities with COVID-19. This is what the COO wanted to accomplish — so how can we get information into the hands of the clinicians and nurses to make sure that patients are safe?

The ask from the Clinic Technology Team was to be able to get real time video of the lobby so they can see what is going on in the lobby. Are patients social distancing? Are they complying to mask mandates? And do they have the ability to fill out a health survey and get health survey results into the hands of the staff?

Kait: That is a seemingly straight forward request. Did the COO or the Clinic Technology Team have any specific must-haves from the start?
Mike: The real must-have was to be able to have a single monitor to display both the live video feed and the results of the health survey back to the clinicians and staff on the same screen.

Kait: That definitely makes sense as an important outcome for this business need. Damon, you were the one that went onsite, did some of the installs on the POC and did some of the testing on location. As part of that testing, were there any additional considerations that came up?
Damon: During the POC, we're looking at where is the device going to be located, can it be seen and will it display multiple views to the one screen? As part of the POC, we found that because of where the device was going to be located, we couldn't bring Ethernet to it, so we would have to utilize Wi-Fi. We had to find devices that could support Wi-Fi that could go onto the corporate network, which brought up the aspect of different layers of authentication and not just guest access. We uncovered many technology challenges as you often do during a POC, and that created some additional things to work through and also created some additional must-haves.

Kait: It seems that the POC did exactly what we needed it to help realize the solution for the larger rollout. Okay, so it sounds a little bit like: I go out to dinner and have an incredible meal and decide that I'm going to make this myself. But when I start looking into the recipe, I realize I am not a chef,  and I don't have most of the seasonings and ingredients in my cupboard. Similarly, this opportunity seemed like a pretty simple ask on the surface, but as we know with technology, things are rarely simple when you need to bring together multiple systems and ensure compatibility and security amongst them. How did WWT's unique expertise help this come to fruition in the end?
Damon: I think the benefit that WWT brought to this project and this whole ask was the fact that, firstly, we have intimate knowledge of the technology architecture for this customer, we knew the right people to talk to when we came across issues. But in addition, we also know the technology and have ideas for pulling all these different pieces together and sprinkling a little extra spice, and here's what we're able to recreate for you. Bringing it back to your analogy, we're able to say here's what we're recreating for you, and we're able to uncover the magic of the recipe and bridge that gap between what they have and know vs. what their true desire is.

Kait: That's great. So, in summary, because of our knowledge of both the customer's inner workings as well as how the various technologies work from an architecture and methodology perspective, we were able to help make their dream state a reality.
Damon: Yes, and I'll also add that one of the advantages for me, while onsite building the proof of concept, was that I didn't have to engage several different engineers to move things forward. I knew exactly who we had to contact for help or how to get approval to keep things moving much faster.

Kait: I think we covered a pretty comprehensive overview of how this all came together. To close things out, I'll pose the same question to both of you. Mike: how's it going, did we learn anything and did we meet the customer's stated goals?
Mike: The first thing I learned is not to order 3,000 monitors a week before Christmas and expect them to come in any time soon. But joking aside, the moral of the story is that supply chain becomes very important. We ordered 3,000 monitors, 3,000 BrightSign digital media players over 5,000 Meraki Cameras, so being able to get the  supply chain right is very important.

I think the other lesson learned here is that WWT, as an organization, is excellent at digital transformation. We typically have those conversations with the CIO or CMO of an organization. What we accomplished for this customer is digital transformation, led by the COO. As we look at the capabilities that WWT has, there are so many avenues to explore, from clinical outcome, facilities-based outcome, clinician and patient experience outcomes, operational outcomes, etc. Being able to take real time information that a customer needs and delivering it in a way that staff and employees can consume and act upon represents true digital transformation, and WWT is well suited to deliver these results.

Kait: That is great insight, Mike. Thank you! Damon, same question to you. How's it going from your perspective, what we learn and did we meet the customer's goals?
Damon: Yes, we definitely met their goals and checked off every stated must-have. We kept them moving forward, and that was really driven from the POC. One thing that I would say is that we continue to help them advance this project. This was not the end. During implementation, the customer was always asking, "what else can we do?".

We are helping them to truly understand and engage with this technology. They are adding camera views, looking at central management, analytics and more. We're staying engaged with them and helping them get the maximum out of this investment.

Benefits that last beyond the pandemic 

Necessity is the mother of invention, and as part of this engagement, we learned that even though CDC guidelines for COVID were a driving factor for this solution, it will likely become standard operating procedure for the customer. Patients attending these clinics are high-risk, and even minor infections can result in adverse outcomes. In addition to encouraging mask compliance and distancing, innovative solutions that leverage technology to drive physical safety will continue to be important for the foreseeable future.

What's next for you?

Cisco Meraki offers a full portfolio of cloud-managed products. Each product is uniquely managed using a centralized cloud-based dashboard with extensive enterprise features. See WWT's top six reasons Meraki Smart Cameras are smart investments and other use cases beyond healthcare — create a account and download the PDF. 

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