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Microsoft in Business Blogs

Woman in lab goggles and gloves working on a monitor.

Overview

For more than 30 years, RSM has been providing Microsoft Dynamics implementations for customers across industries from the basic “out of the box” model to a complex architecture featuring automation, dashboards, system integration and custom development. I recently sat down with Phillip Haase, Principal overseeing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Public Sector Practice at RSM, to discuss how the unique beginning of their Disease Management Solution turned into the perfect pivot point to provide state and local governments with rapid, customized tools to help manage through the ever-changing demands of the COVID crisis.

Many diseases – one holistic solution

More than six years ago, leaders at RSM began noticing a critical gap in healthcare around connecting social services with disease management. They set out to build a holistic solution for state and county health departments to manage diseases from the first point of detection and a positive lab result, to quarantine, case closure, and all the points in between. RSM engaged with experts in the medical and technology fields to help guide and design the system, including Dr. Rohit Chitale, MPH PHD, a renowned infectious disease epidemiologist.

By March 2020, RSM had a unique and totally new solution focused on infectious disease and person-centered care. The Disease and Outbreak Management System was built by epidemiologists for epidemiologists with in-depth data analysis and business processes to support the management of patients as well as outbreak responses. From the beginning, the solution was built on top of RSM’s existing HHS Case Management and designed to work with 73 known communicable diseases. It goes beyond disease management to encompass and weave in the social and behavioral health information needed to provide holistic well-being.

“Then, the pandemic hit and everyone was scrambling. Nobody had time to evaluate a new system, let alone do a full implementation across an institution,” explains Phillip. “The pandemic changed our clients’ focus on what had to be done now and that was saving lives. In a way, it was a godsend and a curse.”

The unintended pivot point

Because RSM’s Disease and Outbreak Management System is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, the team was able to quickly pivot by taking the entire front-to-back process and provide individual elements such as contact tracing, quarantine management, or just lab testing and scheduling.

“We were able to take the full-blown solution and make mini-apps out of them,” says Phillip. “That’s something we never thought of doing, and if the pandemic had hit even six years ago, the technology wouldn’t have allowed us that flexibility. Because we have PowerApps, because of the way Canvas Apps works, because of how Flow works, and because Dynamics is highly distributed, it allowed us to take advantage of the myriad of components that were originally envisioned as a holistic set, to use them individually based on critical and urgent needs. We were able to pivot without rewriting.”

Two prime examples of helping organizations quickly pivot are Hawaii’s Behavioral Health Department and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In Hawaii, the Behavioral Health Department turned to RSM for help with managing its patient constituents. Within six weeks, they implemented a solution that not only managed the pandemic-related needs of isolation, quarantine, and facility capacity, but wove in the social and behavioral health needs for patients such as delivering oxygen, wheelchairs, and food. In Montgomery County, RSM delivered a complete contact tracing system, including sending data back to the state, in just four weeks.

That speed of implementation is remarkable, especially within the public sector.

“Our original plan was for institutions to use this system and turn it on disease by disease,” said Phillip. “What the pandemic made us realize and act on is the value in providing a simpler and more focused solution. Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics 365, we have the ability to provide model-driven apps that are easy to customize. It’s not hand-written and that ultimately helps us provide a more nimble and affordable solution for the public sector.”

The future

With most states now moving forward and out of the critical reaction phase of the pandemic, the importance of implementing more holistic and versatile disease management systems is apparent, but the complexity behind funding, access and workloads is daunting. The CDC provides funds by disease so state health departments typically have 50 different proprietary systems to manage 50 different diseases. If a new grant comes along for a specific disease, that grant funding system often doesn’t work with anything else.

The cure for this is a modern platform that provides a whole new level of fidelity while connecting all three critical aspects of patient care: the physical, behavioral, and social health. “The goal is to connect the workloads across those three aspects. When that happens, a huge part of solving access to healthcare is answered and we begin managing whole person care,” said Phillip. As he explained in a hypothetical hepatitis scenario: someone who lives in the suburbs and someone who is homeless. The disease is the same, it affects the body the same way, but the way healthcare treats the human, is dramatically different. Traditional electronic data records simply were not designed to hold all the data or the full holistic process, such as notifying the homeless shelter.

 

For additional information, visit: RSM Disease & Outbreak Management (microsoft.com)