COVID-19 continues to both challenge and transform healthcare delivery. Traditional care settings are being reimagined, patient needs are growing in both number and complexity, and the pandemic created information-sharing constraints that can directly impact healthcare cost, quality and safety.
How is technology supporting what matters most to patients and providers now? How are we enabling care for anyone, from anywhere, at any time, and bridging the information gaps for the benefit of public health?
During a recent webinar, frontline healthcare experts joined Andrew Mellin, M.D., Vice President, Chief Medical Information Officer at Surescripts, to explore how technology is enabling staff to act with urgency and accuracy, and how the needs of patients and providers are shifting post-COVID.
Here are four key insights from their discussion.
COVID amplified healthcare challenges that existed in the "before times".
“There are some challenges in U.S. healthcare that existed prior to COVID, and I think COVID was a great magnifier of those challenges around provider and caregiver burnout, challenges around the cost of care, the cost of medications, challenges around our public health infrastructure, and challenges around interoperability of data.”
— Andrew Mellin, M.D., Surescripts
Data tells the story of the pandemic—underscored by the importance of data at scale.
“We've always known that data is important to be able to answer critical evidence questions in the context of healthcare, but suddenly, we needed data at scale to define the contours of the pandemic, understand mortality rates in March and April and June, and how those differed across time as we got better at taking care of patients with COVID … What's interesting about this data story is twofold: One is the availability of data at scale in order to address these questions. And then the other side of that was the lack of data at scale to answer these questions. We certainly had the access to many different data sets, but we realized really quickly how interoperability was not working for us within the context of the pandemic.”
— Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., President of Clinical Research Platforms, Verily, and former Principal Deputy Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Healthcare was more resilient, creative and nimble than ever in rising to a public health challenge.
“During the pandemic, we never shut down. We had to keep delivering patient care. And there was also a great need very early on in the pandemic to develop dashboards rapidly so that we could understand our inventory of ventilators and how many ICU beds we had, and to be able to transition many of our perioperative areas and convert them into makeshift ICUs … On the ambulatory side, we had to transition very, very rapidly to an almost all-telemedicine encounter type, away from the in-person visits that we're so used to. And I think telemedicine has been around or a topic of discussion for many of us for many, many years, but this pandemic really just accelerated that at an unprecedented pace … and those changes aren't going away anytime soon.”
— Danny Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Information Officer, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
The rate of unemployment has multiple impacts on patients, providers and payers.
“We knew very quickly that the relationship between both the health and the overall economic unemployment and stability quotients was going to probably hit us in multiple forms. From the standpoint of payer and provider, economic development for those who have been in that space is one of those rare spaces where many parts of the marketplace can come together for shared benefit and shared growth … We knew that this was going to be a major strain. We identified that very early, but then [we were] trying to figure out as well: What does that mean marketplace by marketplace in terms of overall trends?” And then the collinearity between that and the relationship between overall health status for folks—whether we called them members or we call them patients that we’re involved with.”
— Keith Y. Shah, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE, President, Optum Center for Applied Innovation and Senior Vice President, Optum Insight