The COVID-19 Effect: How The Coronavirus Pandemic is Reframing Healthcare

We are very excited to have a special guest host for the next HCLDR Tweetchat – Dr. Zeev Neuwirth! Dr. Neuwirth is an amazing speaker and podcast host. His book Reframing Healthcare – A Roadmap for Creating Disruptive Change is a phenomenal read – full of interesting ways to change your perspective on healthcare. Below is the blog he wrote especially for HCLDR to…ahem…frame the chat.

Blog post by Dr. Zeev Neuwirth

It’s now been 3 months since the Chinese government informed the WHO about a mysterious viral pneumonia, 2 months since the WHO declared a global public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus, and 2 weeks since the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Even in this brief time, the pandemic, and the global public health response, has led to an unimaginable change in all of our daily lives. One of the most significant and impactful changes has been the widespread use of social distancing.

On the healthcare delivery front, numerous leaders have commented that there has been more innovative deployment in the past month than in the previous few years. Many would have argued that healthcare delivery was overdue for a major disruption, but no one would have imagined (or wished) that the catalyst for this disruption would be a devastating viral pandemic. The pandemic has, in the course of a few weeks, literally transformed how healthcare is delivered, and the healthcare experience for both patients and providers. It has shifted the point-of-care from the exam room to the living room. ‘Hospital at Home’ has become commonplace as patient admissions are shifted from hospital beds to patients’ bedrooms. Virtual care and video visits are now becoming the main channel of delivery, while in-person visits for regular check-ups and follow-ups have become the exception.

The immediate public health goal of eliminating the pandemic’s spread and mitigating the surge curve through social distancing is a necessity. High priorities exist, such as: increasing and improving the testing for coronavirus infection; enhancing PPE supplies; protecting and augmenting the capacity of hospital beds, ICU’s and ventilators; researching medical therapies for coronavirus infection; and rapidly developing a vaccine. But there are also other priorities to attend to in parallel with our primary interventions. The level of stress on providers and staff – especially those who are actively providing care to COVID-19 patients – is unprecedented. There is the concern of how to maintain a healthy and viable healthcare workforce, particularly in light of the scarcity of PPE’s and the scarcity of providers in many communities. From a population health perspective, if social distancing and shelter-in-place policies are sustained for weeks or months, they could have a devastating impact on the social determinants of health – exacerbating issues such as food insecurity, income, education, transportation, medication adherence, behavioral health and social isolation.

But, even within these stark realities and uncertainties, there are also ‘silver-linings’ – such as the innovative deployments, the lifting of regulatory restrictions and payments that hinder value-based care delivery, and the amazing generosity and mobilization of community-based organizations, local non-profits and neighbors who are attending to their frail and vulnerable neighbors. Within hospitals and healthcare systems, there is a renewed sense of mission, collaboration and teamwork. Tens of thousands of professionals and staff in healthcare are working tirelessly to provide care and prepare for the worst scenarios. It’s a herculean effort and one that evokes tremendous gratitude from the public.

We are in a time of crisis – no question about it. But, even in crisis, there is opportunity. This is a historic moment in healthcare where we have the opportunity to bring our professionalism, our expertise, our empathy, our humanity and our leadership to bear. We have the opportunity to let go of our legacy beliefs and approaches, and to reconfirm our commitment to making meaningful, sustaining decisions. We have an opportunity to reorient our thinking and redirect the trajectory of healthcare for decades to come. We have an opportunity to literally transform the healthcare ecosystem – to make it more accessible, affordable and personalized – to make it safer and sustainable – to make it more equitable.

The critical action in a time of crisis is not to leap to seductive ‘shiny object’ solutions, or to recede into short-term thinking, or to be swayed by mercenary leadership. The critical action in times of crisis is to ask the reorienting questions that allow us to redefine the problem, redesign our actions, reorganize ourselves, and ultimately reframe our healthcare system.

Please join me for the next HCLDR tweetchat happening Tuesday March 31st at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here). Together we will be discussing the following questions:

  • T1 How can we ensure that the patient/consumer voice isn’t lost during this #COVID19 crisis? How do we protect the gains made over the past decade?
  • T2 How is #COVID19 impacting the Social Determinants of Health – impacting issues such as food insecurity, income, education, safe housing, transportation, behavioral health, social isolation?
  • T3 #COVID19 is impacting healthcare staff – especially those on the frontline – what can be done to better support them as they care for patients?
  • T4 How will #COVID19 irreversibly reframe healthcare delivery over the next few years (i.e. home-based care, tele-health, policies & payment, etc…)?

About the Author

Zeev Neuwirth MD serves as the Chief Clinical Executive for Care Transformation & Strategic Services at Atrium Health – one of the largest, leading non-profit hospital systems in the country. Prior to this most recent appointment, Dr. Neuwirth served as the Senior Medical Director for Population Health; and prior to that, as the Chief Clinical Executive of the Atrium Health Medical Group – a group consisting of approximately 2000 providers, proactively providing medical care to over 1.1 million primary care patients, and serving a community of over 2 million people in the greater Charlotte area. In this capacity, he was responsible for ambulatory quality improvement and leading the redesign of the Primary Care ecosystem at Atrium Health. He also served as an executive leader in the development of the Atrium Health Care Management division, Retail Care & Virtual Care.

In August 2017, Dr. Neuwirth launched a healthcare podcast entitled, Creating a New Healthcare. The podcast has been named as one of the most popular healthcare podcasts of 2018 and was awarded “Healthcare Podcast of the Year” by HITMC in April 2019. 

Most recently, Dr. Neuwirth has published a book, Reframing Healthcare – A Roadmap for Creating Disruptive Change, which was released on Amazon this past April. The book was rated on Amazon as the #1 New Release in Healthcare Administration & Policy, and currently holds a 5 star rating. In this book, Dr. Neuwirth outlines a comprehensive, sustainable and scale-able roadmap to transforming healthcare delivery into a more consumer-oriented, humanistic and value-based system of care.

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