Dr. Larry Benz Writes a Compelling Piece on COVID-19 Restoring ‘Care’ Back into ‘Healthcare’
Can COVID-19 Restore Humanity in Healthcare?
Prior to the coronavirus, healthcare had moved away from its “care” component. Now, we are seeing unprecedented compassion, concern, and sympathy driving us to take action.
We are in the middle of fighting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe. This has brought an unprecedented focus on healthcare and, in particular, public health, prevention, and the realization that a virus we cannot see can impart unforeseen sickness and fatalities.
There are visuals of first responders and healthcare workers fighting at the front lines for people’s lives. Formerly abstract terms like national emergency, pandemic, shelter at home, medical supply shortages, antibody testing, N95 masks, and mobile hospitals have real daily meaning.
Many workers are deemed “essential,” meaning they conduct a range of operations and services that are critical to the continued viability of our infrastructure as guided by the Department of Homeland Security acting via the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Among these essential workers are the physical therapists who are part of the company I lead. It is fair to say, our lives have dramatically altered and will be changed by this in many ways, some permanent.
We are seeing unprecedented compassion, concern, and sympathy driving us to take action. For example, the US Congress bipartisan support of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CARES Act, which both passed and were signed by the president in record time.
A significant number of states have passed legislation that relaxes and enhances unemployment filings. Health insurance companies have come together to waive co-pays and fully pay for any COVID-19 treatments. Thirty million-plus Americans without any health insurance have been given comfort that if they get COVID-19 their cost will be paid directly to the hospitals providing treatment. Government regulations regarding patient record keeping and even parts of HIPAA have been waived. Medical students in certain parts of the country graduated early to help fight and keep elderly and other vulnerable people at home.
There is significant relief of mortgages, incredible generosity towards workers on the front lines, and highlighting of physicians and others as both warriors and heroes. Even countries long at odds with each other are sending humanitarian flights filled with needed medical supplies and ventilators. It is humbling and comforting to know that at our greatest time of need, we can come together.
But will the caring last? Will the social or physical distancing strategies have any long-term effects? Will there be renewed interest in the patient–provider relationship? Will documentation and regulatory requirements that deprive providers of face-to-face encounter time with patients be permanently waived? Will physical distancing remain a part of a healthcare visit? Will telehealth play a larger role in healthcare? Will hand sanitation and not touching your face remain a day-to-day priority?
Continue reading Dr. Benz’s article here.