Imelda Dacones, MD, writes on KevinMD.com that COVID-19 could catalyze a reimagining of health care

Despite its massive human toll, the COVID-19 pandemic can serve as a catalyst for reimagining the future of health care delivery, Imelda Dacones, MD, wrote in a recent opinion piece posted on KevinMD.com.

Imelda Dacones, MD

Dr. Dacones, president and CEO of Northwest Permanente, described how the coronavirus has overwhelmed hospitals, staff, and supply chains; stripped many Americans of health care coverage, along with their jobs; and affected billions of people worldwide, with mounting fatalities. She wrote that the test for health care will be how it responds.

“Our response to this tragedy paves the way for integrated, value-based health care systems in which patients receive the care they need without exhausting resources; doctors practice medicine without borders via telemedicine; hospitals function without walls; and supply chains are redundant and function more reliably,” wrote Dr. Dacones, who serves as chair of the National Permanente Executive Committee of The Permanente Federation.

For example, Dr. Dacones wrote that physician groups that derive their revenue from traditional private insurance experienced sharp drops in revenue as shelter-in-place orders halted office visits. As a result, many primary care physicians urged the government and private health plans to advance monthly payments on their usual billings to bridge revenue gaps, and Medicare started offering this option to its providers.

Some physicians have even called for advance payments to continue beyond the crisis, Dr. Dacones wrote, a move that could accelerate a shift from traditional fee-for-service models to integrated, value-based care. Such practices could include monthly payments per member with a mechanism to reward better health outcomes.

Creating more efficient and effective acute care ecosystems, improving supply chains, and leveraging telehealth are among the many lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to turn those lessons into action, Dr. Dacones wrote, “to deliver safe, effective, high-quality, and affordable care for our patients and communities.”

Note: Read the full blog post on the KevinMD.com site.