With the new year underway, we are excited and encouraged by the new COVID-19 vaccines being deployed to healthcare workers and high-risk individuals in the United States and Canada.

Here in the United States, each of our states are receiving their allocated commitments of vaccinations and planning is underway for broad-scale deployment of the vaccine. With Wave 1, which began at the end of 2020, we’ve already seen the first round of vaccines being successfully administered to frontline healthcare professionals.

It’s absolutely incredible to see the speed of innovation in the US, Canada and Latin America. Innovation in technology, vaccine development and deployment and business and clinical resiliency in times of crisis. We are proud of the work we’ve done at Cisco to help empower and enable our healthcare organizations, and we know there is still so much to work to be done.

As we look forward into 2021, there is great opportunity around how technology can help enable the administration of the vaccine. As the vaccine is deployed to the wider population, we look to technology to help connect citizens and patients with the resources and knowledge they need to understand when and how they will receive the vaccine. To help make sure patients receive both of the needed vaccination shots, healthcare organizations should look to outbound call automation and virtual scheduling.

For healthcare organizations experiencing a surge in demand for the vaccination, drive up or mobile distribution sites allow for greater volumes of care. It’s critical these temporary sites outside of the healthcare facility remain connected to the network, are efficient with mobile experience, digital check-in and patient registration, and enable clinicians to securely communicate between one and other.

And above all, security, privacy and compliance need to remain top of mind throughout the vaccine distribution phases. From physical security and environmental monitoring for networks and endpoints to a holistic cybersecurity strategy, healthcare organizations need to minimize waste of critical vaccine supply and will be held accountable for doing so.

Challenges and opportunities

Outside of vaccine administration, the key challenges we’re seeing across healthcare organizations in the Americas deal with combating clinician burnout and shortage.

In the United States alone, it’s estimated that there will be a shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2025. And, this statistic is pre-pandemic, which means we’re likely facing even greater shortages of providers due to the incredible stress that the pandemic has placed on them.

One way that we can help fight clinician burnout is through technology. Technology that helps create better work environments for providers, more efficient workflows, and helps minimize exposure within the care facility.

Healthcare organizations across the Americas region have prioritized key investments in technology to do just that.

Telehealth remains a priority for healthcare organizations to help maintain continuity of care without risking unnecessary exposure for patients and clinicians. Remote patient observation, where a clinician can view and monitor a patient from outside of the hospital room, helps reduce wasted personal protective equipment and can help save clinicians needed time.

Technology systems that help streamline clinician workflow are also critical for today’s healthcare organizations. Tools that are integrated within Electronic Health Record systems and clinician communication applications are key, as well as virtual triage, self-service applications for patients and chatbots that help alleviate extra pressure on care teams during surges in demand.

Looking ahead

There are many trends driving change in healthcare. As we look forward into the next 12-24 months, we will see increased priority placed on the following:

A growing and pervasive need for behavioral and mental health services and integrating these services into all departments of medicine.

  • AI and machine learning will be used to drive automation and increased accuracy in many areas of the patient and clinician journeys.
  • Security threats and breaches threaten financial stability of healthcare organizations. Continued investment into holistic cybersecurity strategies will be of key importance.
  • Care at home will be a new business normal and drive the adoption of personal-accountability for healthcare and monitoring. This will also drive the change in clinical care delivery from outpatient and ambulatory settings to remote monitoring and in-home services.
  • Medical device manufacturers will be part of the integrated care workflow, increasing partnerships and sharing of data. Data and analytics will become a critical component in care delivery and our healthcare system.
  • Telehealth will continue to be adopted.
  • Government funding and mandates will grow under the new administration in the US, increasing the need for data collection, analytics and reporting.

With the new year upon us, I want to take the opportunity to thank those who have worked tirelessly in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. To our healthcare workers and frontline workers, we say thank you. We are here for you and will continue to provide needed support in the months to come.

Learn more and visit our latest infographic on powering an inclusive recovery through efficient vaccine administration.


Kathryn Howe

Director, Healthcare Digital Transformation, Cisco Americas

Customer Value Acceleration/Business Transformation