INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Inside perspective on the pandemic is influencing a lasting look for the health care industry. The focus is new technology and some pandemic changes look like they’ll stick long-term.

More people are working from home than ever before and now health care industries are working to integrate technology to improve safety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, about 7,000 IU Health employees are working remotely. Most of those workers hold administrative positions. That’s about 17% of the 36,000 employees.

IU Health Vice President of Design and Construction Jim Mladucky says their real estate agents are looking closely at possibly selling office buildings, as social distancing likely won’t go away.

The pandemic also accelerated telehealth before the pandemic, about 5%of all visits at IU Health were telehealth. Now, they’re close to 30% and numbers are expected to stay as some patients appreciate the convenience.

“It’s really, you know, that marriage between technology and the human touch and high-tech touch,” Mladucky said. “So, there is always service that we need to provide for those that we care for and so you can get a lot of convenience out of technology.”

IU Health is currently designing an expansion of the downtown Methodist campus. Implementing technology is at the forefront of planners’ minds. This includes virtual visits and a virtual check-in process, which sends an itinerary to your phone via a mobile app. A map will then track your movement and take you where you need to go in the hospital. There are also real-time location systems, which will track things like wheelchairs and every piece of equipment. The health system will be able to tell where it’s being cleaned, stored, used and by who. Planners are also looking at where patients should be seen.

“Something we’re looking closely at is how do we use the best physical assets that we have,” Mladucky said. “So, where is the best care that we can provide for that patient and what is the setting?”

Mladucky says this could be the downtown campus with all the different specialists, one of the suburban hospitals or an urgent care center.

Construction for the new campus is expected to take about six years to complete.

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