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COVID-19: How Healthcare IT Industry Organizations are Managing

Steve Martin IRIS CEO Headshot
COVID-19: How Healthcare IT Industry Organizations are Managing

Is your company pivoting at all during this pandemic and are there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing to assist the healthcare industry specifically to COVID-19?

Our company has not pivoted during this time as our mission to end preventable blindness remains the same, and it has remained our focus on a daily basis.  Diabetic retinopathy was and will continue to be the leading cause of blindness in working age adults, so our resolve and commitment remains steadfast.  While our mission remains our focus, many of our clients are in the primary care setting dealing with a more severe mission, as well as retail clients that had to go all in on ramping up testing.  COVID-19 has certainly caused a significant change in priorities for our clients, as it should, and we have remained present but flexible to their needs during this unprecedented time.  As our clients pause their normal routines, we in turn have pause and re-focused our internal priorities and efforts at IRIS.   During this unique period, we decided to place a concerted effort on two core strategies that align to our mission and will allow us to better support our clients moving forward:  1)  Better virtual training and support tools for our clients and 2)  Continued work on developing new innovations through the Microsoft AI for Health grant program.

Our mission is what fuels our team--it’s what draws people to want to work at IRIS.  The ability to spend time improving our offerings for our clients has energized our team and given us a renewed sense of purpose—to come out of COVID-19 with better processes, tools and offerings for our clients so they are better equipped to eliminate preventable blindness.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

Like many other organizations we are a company with a percentage of people who work remotely from home, in addition to a percentage of people who work at our home office in Pensacola, FL.  Part of our normal work environment, pre-COVID-19, has been to utilize tools like Zoom/Web Ex/Conference Call tools to collaborate and support our internal team as well as our clients.  As COVID-19 safety measures were  put in place, we moved our entire team to operate from their homes and thankfully there has been little change for our team.  We always use video to connect as much as possible, as that helps the collaboration and reinforces team engagement.  One of the biggest changes we did have to adapt to, and that I stressed early on, is that everyone’s remote environment will be different and we must remain flexible to those changes.   For example, many of our employees are also playing the role of teacher and that role could vary by the age of the child, as far as time of day schooling happens, Zoom classroom meetings, expectations for their schooling, etc.  We also have living environments that are different which means that and access to quiet or dedicate office settings (without interruptions may be limited especially, if there are two parents working from a home and children doing school work.  The main message we have conveyed is the need to be flexible with our fellow team members and find the humor of a 3 year old dropping in on meetings!

What message would you like to share with the HIT industry and the Healthcare industry as a whole?

First and foremost we want to express our utmost thanks for the front line healthcare workers whose efforts are heroic and inspirational.  Also a big thanks to everyone else that is out there keeping the country moving along while we get through this – the truck drivers, grocery store/retail employees – people who are allowing us to stay at home.  Second, each of us at IRIS have been watching the heroic feats of others and it has challenged us to be the best neighbors that we can be – that might mean donating or volunteering at a food bank, helping out an elderly neighbor with food or medicine, or a virtual check in with someone that is living alone.

In times like these, the true character of individuals, and a company culture, comes out and can strengthen or destroy a company.  I am thrilled that our team has bonded together, has a greater resolve to help the diabetic patients across our nation and world, and through our current work & efforts, is instilling a confidence that we will emerge a stronger organization as a result of this experience.