COVID-19: A Health Revolution in the Making?

July 29, 2020

Alex Bitoun, CEO - HealthPersonas

The CARES Act and Telehealth

In March, as part of the federal response to the COVID pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act recognized the pending need for expanding telehealth capabilities and allocated $200 million to support technology initiatives for providers. By July 8th , the program was closed and over 500 providers were able to fund projects from the initial allocation. Because of the success of the program, and the ongoing need to provide remote access to healthcare resources during the ongoing pandemic, on July 21st forty members of Congress sent a formal request to the FCC Chairman for detailed program data, with the intent to propose additional telehealth funding.  The letter mentions the recent trend that “more and more patients are seeking care from providers over telecommunications technology rather than in a brick and mortar office or clinic”, and goes on to say they “believe this shift has the potential to improve access to care for marginalized populations, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes by facilitating better monitoring of chronic health conditions.”   

Telehealth Weekly Visits as a Percentage of Total Medicare Primary Care Visits. Source.

The Great Reset

COVID-19 has had an abrupt and extensive impact on our lives.  The “great reset”, as it is referred to by McKinsey, applies to almost all businesses, and healthcare is no exception.  The delivery of care to date has evolved slowly.  There is a constant need to align thinking and interests between the physicians, health plans, and other involved stakeholders, creating an ongoing debate to status-quo.  The onset of COVID-19 has forcibly accelerated changes, some that may be here to stay.  

Lack of access has provided an opportunity for remote health delivery organizations:

Physicians are finally adopting remote technology in order to survive:
Accounting for the mental health component of whole person health in a remote world:

These changes are welcome and long overdue.  The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has broken down the barriers and connected consumers to care providers under a different premise.  We can do more than make short-term changes in the delivery of health services under the guise of convenience; we can improve the model of care as well.  Eventually consumers will want and expect more.  And I expect it to come sooner than later.