If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that healthcare can change rapidly when circumstances warrant. Long known as an industry that lagged behind other industries with digital change and transformation, healthcare has stepped up big time in the past year with innovations to continue patient care in a locked-down environment.
Dr. Karen Murphy, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Geisinger Health System, recently gave her thoughts on how healthcare should proceed in a post-pandemic era. She says, “I think we can see some silver linings in what we have just experienced, and I think we should see a new normal, as opposed to getting back to the way we were.”
For one thing, she says that necessary changes to the healthcare delivery system were brought about in hours, not the weeks, months and even years that innovation has taken in the past. Healthcare has learned just how nimble it can be, and Dr. Murphy believes that the “silver linings” from the pandemic upheaval can be used to bring about a stronger, better system with higher quality and more satisfaction, especially for healthcare workers.
Dr. Murphy is especially happy about the digital health innovations that have come about as a result of the pandemic. She says that care models such as going to patients’ homes, providing virtual visits and in-home monitoring of chronic conditions were more effective than in-hospital care. Patients embraced these new models.
In addition, digital innovation provided more data that has been included in providing care. More and better data leads to improved care.
Dr. Murphy sees the need for payment reform. Health systems lost a lot of money during the lockdowns when non-emergent inpatient care was suspended for months. In addition, payment models were not friendly to virtual care. While virtual payments have improved, there is still much to be done. Dr. Murphy says that payment models need to change from a fee-for-service model to a model based on quality and value.