While COVID-19 has exacted a massive human and economic toll and disrupted every aspect of people’s lives, 3 significant developments during the pandemic will have sustained benefits on how health organizations deliver care to patients in 2021 and beyond, wrote Richard S. Isaacs, MD, FACS, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group, on Medscape.
In a commentary co-authored with WebMD Chief Medical Officer John Whyte, MD, Dr. Isaacs described the first development — the accelerated widespread adoption of technology. During the early stages of the pandemic, 80% of care delivery occurred via telehealth, including video and phone appointments.
“While in-person visits have increased over the past few months, many patients have decided that they appreciate the ease and convenience of getting their care remotely,” wrote Drs. Isaacs and Whyte. “And physicians are finding that they are getting to know many of their patients better through video visits because patients are more comfortable and more open during a video visit from their home than they are in the doctor’s office.”
The second development is the disproportionate mortality rate from COVID-19 in the Black and Latino communities during the pandemic, which has increased the focus on culturally responsive and equitable care. However, “Health consequences are just one manifestation of pervasive disparities, including but not limited to access to fresh fruits and vegetables, transportation, public parks and walkways, clean air and water, and quality education and housing,” the co-authors wrote. “We must continue to prioritize the types of investments that we know improve the overall health of our communities.”
Finally, the pandemic accelerated a shift from providing care in hospital settings to patients’ homes, thanks to the increased sophistication and variety of tools available for remote patient monitoring and diagnostics. For example, Permanente physicians have provided chemotherapy to many Kaiser Permanente cancer patients in their homes during the pandemic, and they have even conducted clinical trials in the home. “We would not have done either of these pre-COVID,” added Dr. Isaacs, who also serves as co-CEO of The Permanente Federation.
Note: To read the full article, visit the Medscape website.