Things Will Never Be the Same. Or will they?

This chat was originally scheduled for Tuesday June 2nd, but in recognition of everything happening in the world right now, we decided to not go forward with it on that day. We joined many in the #hcldr community in support of #BlackOutTuesday – a time to stop pushing our own agenda/promotions on social media so that we can listen, reflect, and amplify the voices calling for change.

This chat will now happen on Tuesday June 9th at 8:30pm ET instead.

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As the calendar flips to June, for those in the US and Canada we are now entering the 4th month of living with COVID-19. For people living in Europe and Asia it has been even longer. Now that we’ve all had time to adjust to this new world (I won’t say accept), I find myself having a much different outlook on what will never be the same and what go back to the way things were. I thought it would be fun to discuss this with the HCLDR community on the next tweetchat.

I must admit that at the start of March, I thought this would be all over in a month and that we would get back to living our lives like we used to. Clearly I was naïve. As I learned more about the coronavirus and the distant prospect of a vaccine, I began to change my thinking – we were going to be in this for months (as many as 18 in my mind).

It has taken me a few months to even get comfortable with that idea. It’s not fun to think about being physically distant, lining up to buy necessities, watching depressing news about businesses permanently closing their doors and people suffering/dying from the virus for months and months. I have to remind myself to take time to be grateful for all the things I’m lucky to have (I’m not going to jinx myself by writing them here 😊).

Lately, I have been thinking about what will never be the same now that we have gone through 3-4 months without it. For example, I believe that restaurants will never be the same again. I think we will see smaller dining rooms, tiny indoor waiting areas, mandatory reservations and much more focus on the dine-at-home experience vs onsite. It’s not about the virus, but rather the economics. Paying for a large empty space is just too risky. Plus many have now learned the convenience of on-demand food delivery and overcome prior reticence to use apps to order out.

In fact, I think we will see the rise of “ghost restaurants” – places that don’t actually have a dining room but are just a kitchen in an industrial area that only does catering and take-out. Why pay for fancy seating and front-of-room staff when all you need is chefs and preppers?

When it comes to healthcare I see a few things that will never be the same again.

The obvious one is primary care visits will never be the same. Similar to my restaurant theory, I see physician offices eliminating waiting rooms. Instead, they will opt for offices that are attached to large open spaces like malls or offices with large atrium lobbies where people can wait without being crammed together. Of course, seeing a doctor in-person will become increasingly rare as more and more common appointments can be completed via telehealth.

I also believe that where we decide to age will never be the same. COVID-19 has shown us how truly vulnerable the elderly in long-term care facilities are. Seeing the horrific living conditions at some homes and how the virus spread like wildfire in those places, how many of us would choose that as a place to age? I know I’d much rather be at home. Aging-in-place was a healthcare movement before COVID-19, I think it is now something that the general public is seriously getting behind (finally).

On the other hand, there are a few things that I believe will snap back to the way things were.

Sadly, I see a return to the increasing burden of healthcare costs being pushed down to patients. “Bending the curve” used to refer to healthcare costs before COVID-19. Now that lucrative elective procedures have been on hold for months, healthcare systems have been losing money. Although there is a massive backlog, there is only so much capacity so that revenue is, for most organization, lost forever. Unless the government comes up with another healthcare bailout package, the costs will eventually filter down to patients.

On the positive side, I see a return to focusing on patient engagement. If anything, this pandemic has highlighted how important it is to engage patients and family caregivers in the delivery of care. Organizations have sent countless people home to “self-monitor” and with the rise of telehealth, patients are doing more for themselves at home. COVID-19 has shown us it CAN be done and I see that when a vaccine is ready, we will go back to a time when patient engagement is a priority for healthcare.

What are your thoughts on this?

Join me for the next #hcldr tweetchat – Tuesday June 9th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will discuss the following:

  • T1 Now that we are entering our 4th month of COVID-19 what personal belief/opinion have you had to change or re-evaluate?
  • T2 What aspect of healthcare do you believe has been forever changed because of COVID-19?
  • T3 What do you hope will snap back to the way things were prior to the pandemic, related to healthcare?
  • T4 Time for optimism. What new things have you tried and enjoyed during the past 3 months of being at home?

Image Credit

Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

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