Richard Isaacs, MD, FACS, describes for WebMD how COVID-19 transforms health care

In a recent interview with WebMD, Richard S. Isaacs, MD, FACS, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG), described how COVID-19 mitigation measures in Northern California are working, and how the disease is transforming health care.

Richard Isaacs, MD

“We are now about to start our fifth week of sheltering in place and we have some very good data to indicate that we’re seeing a slowing of the doubling of COVID-19 in our communities and a flattening of the curve by social isolation,” said Dr. Isaacs, who also serves as president and CEO, Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, and co-CEO, The Permanente Federation.

The video interview is part of a series of conversations with industry leaders on the coronavirus topic with WebMD’s chief medical officer, John Whyte, MD, MPH.

Dr. Isaacs also described how COVID-19 is accelerating the adoption of telehealth and telemedicine. Just four weeks ago, he said, “our pediatricians, adult and family medicine doctors, ob-gyn, and mental health went to a pure telehealth strategy using video-first, except obviously where face-to-face (interactions are) required. We’re doing over 80% telehealth today. …The silver lining of all this is COVID is moving health care in the direction that we were trying to go, but we’re going quicker.”

He said he has been amazed at how quickly both patients and physicians have embraced telehealth. “The patients are loving this because they get to see their doctor in the comfort of their own home,” Dr. Isaacs said, “and we’ve created ancillary support – pharmacy delivery to the home, which is helping (to) round out that whole experience.”

As a result of the rapid adoption of telehealth, Dr. Isaacs told WebMD that his team plans to identify which scenarios are better utilized with telehealth, and which ones require face-to-face visits. “When we emerge from COVID-19,” he said, “we’ll have a whole new paradigm about the way we deliver care.”

To view the entire interview, visit the WebMD site.