How Do Healthcare Visionaries View the Post-Pandemic World?

Dec. 1, 2020
A new report examines how COVID-19 has upended the healthcare ecosystem and predicts which changes will stick after the pandemic wanes

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the American healthcare system to undergo years of change in a matter of months. A new report spearheaded by healthcare technology company Innovaccer explores the different ways the health crisis has become the catalyst for changes that industry leaders expected a decade from now. The report’s authors ultimately predict which of these changes will be sustained in some form, even after the pandemic subsides.

Over the past eight months, David Nace, M.D., chief medical officer at the Silicon Valley-based Innovaccer, said he has virtually spoken with more than 1,400 C-suite executives to discuss this sudden change in the healthcare system. As such, he and his team have curated a report titled, “A Look at the New Normal of Healthcare: Perspectives from the Industry Leaders,” that features industry leaders’ strategy and viewpoints for the new normal of healthcare. The report highlights multiple domains of focus that have been identified based on the insights from over 29,000 professionals who are helping lead their organizations in these unpredictable times.

Providing a glimpse into the future, a few key findings from the report include:

  • A large percentage of employers feel that COVID-19 will impact their companies’ healthcare costs, with nearly six in 10 saying the cost impact will be significant.
  • Most healthcare organizations have made changes in their population health management (PHM) strategy due to COVID. Twelve percent of the organizations involved in the survey saw a complete makeover of their PHM strategy.
  • COVID-19 has pushed healthcare technology to mainstream care delivery. Nearly 40 percent of respondents to Innovaccer’s recent survey indicated that they have a digital infrastructure for analytics, telemedicine and better patient engagement in place already.
  • Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are the most sought-after solutions due to COVID-19.
  • Telemedicine has come out to be the most sought-after solution, with more than 54 percent of respondents feeling that it can help contain COVID 19.

As the report’s authors noted, telehealth and COVID-19 have risen together, “bringing about a remarkable shift toward virtual care throughout the country.” Studies estimate that the demand for telehealth will increase by 64 percent in the U.S. in 2020, and the telehealth market is estimated to grow seven-fold by 2025, leading to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38.2 percent, they stated.

Key guidance for the report came from several healthcare leaders, including: David B. Nash, M.D., founding dean emeritus at Jefferson College of Population Health; Dana Zanone, M.D., VP HIO, Adventist Health; Rakhal M. Reddy, M.D., medical director, informatics, Adventist Health; and Joseph C. Kvedar, M.D., professor, Harvard Medical School. In the report, these leaders offered best practices that providers, payers, and other stakeholders can leverage to achieve better outcomes. Some of those comments include:

“I would venture to say that we’re going to be much more deeply involved in population health management in the post-pandemic state. In the pre-pandemic times, population health relied very modestly on telemedicine. But it took a global event to create social change that probably would have taken five years to do in only five weeks.” -- David B. Nash, M.D.

“Acquiring massive amounts of patient information would allow us to do a deep-dive data analysis to analyze deteriorating symptoms and patient characteristics, even to the point of factoring in genetic markers. I think medicine is really going to change over the next few years as we get better with these massive algorithms where we’re taking data from multiple sources around the world. Aggregating that data will significantly change how we care for people based on their personal risk factors.” -- Dana Zanone, M.D.

“We will come out a lot more dependent on telehealth and texting functionality in the new normal of healthcare and the post-COVID era. I think we might get to the point where hospital CEOs would be more focused on keeping people out of the hospital than getting them in.” -- Judi Nightingale, R.N., director of population health, Riverside University Health System.

“As a society we need to ensure that the provider universe is healthy after their response to the COVID-19 surge. And hopefully that doesn’t mean a whole series of horizontal provider merger and acquisition activities that will simply aggregate the hospital centric component of the health care system to leverage higher rates from the payers. In addition, we need to keep in mind that the large, self-insured companies will continue to fundamentally change the way they buy healthcare and pharma. There is no question that the move to value-based care has not been affected negatively by COVID-19. In fact, the ability to ‘go digital’ should be an area of overlap between how providers change their caregiving and how employers expect their sponsored lives to get care.” -- Glenn Steele, Jr. M.D., Ph.D. vice-chair, Health Transformation Alliance, former Geisinger Health System President and CEO