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‘Now normal’ in healthcare

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A “new normal” is emerging as we battle the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in which novel systems and assumptions are replacing many others long practiced, or taken for granted.

Businesses have been driven to innovate in ways they had never planned or even imagined. Many companies have flocked to the healthcare industry to respond to the surge in demand that far exceeds supply. For instance, in early March of this year, San Miguel Corporation’s Ginebra San Miguel Corp. started to produce alcohol of a different kind — 100,000 liters per day of 70 percent ethyl alcohol amid a shortage in disinfectants which they donated in generous amounts to communities and hospitals around the country. Louis Vuitton in Paris repurposed its perfume production factory to making hand sanitizers. New Balance, the giant footwear brand, is now manufacturing protective masks. Ford and GM converted factories to produce respirators, medical supplies and ventilators. Prada, Zara and H&M have joined the bandwagon to produce personal protective equipment (PPE). Nina Corpuz, broadcast journalist, has shifted to making face masks out of traditional inabel textile hand-woven by local artisans from the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon.

Doctors who didn’t previously offer telehealth services are scrambling to implement the technology in some way.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CONNECTEDREMAG.COM

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people interact with one another. Healthcare is no exception. Doctors who didn’t previously offer telehealth services are scrambling to implement the technology in some way. This trend has been especially true on the outpatient side, where doctors and patients may be consulting on more minor ailments. The rush toward telehealth makes sense. It’s an easy way for providers and patients to connect with one another without risking their health. Although there had been some resistance to adopting telehealth services, the sudden and urgent need to find alternatives to visiting hospitals made that pivot critical.

The pandemic has changed how people interact with one another.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSLPASH/ANI KOLLESHI

Stringent protocols prior to hospitalization or an outpatient procedure are in place in hospitals and clinics, to mitigate the transfer of the virus. This makes any and every hospital visit much longer, more costly (with costs of PPE passed on to the patient) and painfully inconvenient.

Without warning, COVID-19 has forced us to live differently. The current focus in healthcare is dealing with the near-term challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created. However, beyond the current crisis, we are already identifying and noticing significant changes that will become part of the new normal. These include the sudden importance of telemedicine, the regulatory changes impacting billing, and the use of location data to track the disease.

We, as consumers, are going to have to change our behaviors, and healthcare organizations will have to change how they deliver care.

In the short term, the most significant opportunities are telehealth and telemonitoring. There is sure to be a vast number of technological changes and advancements. It only took a global pandemic to bring forth an almost universal adoption of teleheatlh. Providers have expanded options and vendors have rolled out upgrades and advances. Would we ever want to go back to a time without telemedicine?

COVID-19 has created a new world for all of us in which masks cover the smile we once saw.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/MIER CHEN

Another aspect of the new normal involves the financial strain that many healthcare organizations are experiencing. With many elective surgeries still on hold for the foreseeable future, whether by patient choice or limited access to care, and almost all resources going towards COVID-19, many hospitals and clinics are struggling financially. On a positive note, however, one side effect may be increased and improved data sharing so that wherever you go, access to your records can be available.

COVID-19 has created a new world for all of us, a world in which masks and face coverings cover the smile we once saw, virtual visits supersede in-person consultations, safety precautions leave friends or family isolated. Trust in healthcare has never been more critical than it is today. COVID-19 has created a new world for the healthcare industry, a world in which masks and face coverings cover the smiles we once saw, virtual visits supersede in-person care, and visitor precautions leave patients feeling isolated. While we’ve never lost sight of quality and safety — in many ways it has ramped up — we know that building trust right now means doubling down on showing kindness and compassion to each other and to our patients when they need our expertise and guidance most.

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