April 29, 2020 By David Bjork
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the most basic routines of modern life. We largely take for granted how much time we spend in the company of other people, and how much our life depends on these in-person connections – despite the growing prevalence of technology solutions to remove the need for face-to-face interaction.
Our team at Commonwealth Health Advisors continues to analyze the lasting change that COVID-19 will bring to the U.S. healthcare industry. Our perspective is informed by our collective years leading healthcare businesses as well as more recently from working side by side with our customers. As a Boston-based healthcare management consulting firm, we are privileged to work with many established healthcare technology and services businesses, new entrants and disruptors, and financial and strategic investors. Our clients all share a passion to identify opportunities to improve clinical outcomes while maintaining a strong value proposition for their own customers and continuing to grow their businesses.
Following is Part 1 of a multi-part series. We have organized our post-COVID expectations as predictions of market motion
followed by related questions. We will publish a new edition each week, which will look, in-depth, at each macro trend. In this first edition, our objective is to introduce those macro trends that we believe will change healthcare for consumers, providers, payers and all technology and services companies innovating during this dynamic period to come. Despite all the current uncertainty, we remain confident that future positive changes will come from this crisis. Above all, we hope this series stimulates discussion among your executive team, and helps to illuminate topics that will enable you to optimize business success in the months ahead.
Macro Trends Emerging from COVID-19
We are analyzing the following trends to determine how they will impact our clients’ businesses. We are further reviewing ways to adjust strategies and execution plans to adapt to these changes and be well-positioned as one of the businesses best prepared to win when our economy “returns to business”.
- Mainstreaming telehealth and virtual care
- Activating government and public health in healthcare
- Accelerating the shift in care settings
- Improving senior care quality and availability
- Expanding healthcare consumer demands
- Recognizing data accessibility and sharing
- Adjusting day-to-day operations of healthcare businesses
Mainstreaming telehealth and virtual care
Virtual care of all kinds is being rapidly adopted due to the pandemic. Telemedicine is heavily utilized by providers; telehealth by wellness and care support providers; remote monitoring and virtual care by all who care for our seniors. It will be interesting to know how to make sense of this landscape and know who is best poised to win and lose.
Government and Public Health Taking an Active Role in Healthcare
The COVID pandemic has triggered governments to begin actively managing various aspects of the healthcare system and change regulations to enable care delivery without hesitation. Further, new government-driven healthcare programs are being launched, like drive-through testing and contact tracing. We will explore how these initial clues play out in the market and what will drive success vs. spell failure.
Accelerating the Shift in Care Settings
The US healthcare system is under amplified stress and will be for the next 18 months, at least. Care settings that alleviate our current health care system from this stress are being and will continue to be considered for all needed care. This will change the healthcare consumers’ awareness of and practice leveraging options to where they receive trusted care and likely change consumer behavior in the future. Our team will study what changes are likely to happen and how healthcare business must respond to these changes.
Improving Care for Senior Populations
With the Medicare population growing by 30% over the next ten years (64M in 2019 to a projected 84M in 2030), our senior population is a central concern of our healthcare system. The COVID pandemic will force us to reconsider how we best care for this population. Many changes that make sense will be evaluated and have opportunities for adoption with less evaluation ‘rigor’ (or red tape) than recent norms. We will review current initiatives in this area and provide an informed opinion on outcomes we anticipate.
Accelerating Patient Choice
Patients are smarter and more empowered than ever before. And our entire society is being forced to pay close attention as our healthcare system responds to the demands that COVID19 imposes on it. The criticisms that will be levied will further fuel the public debate about the imperfect healthcare system in the US… this time, however, everyone is tuned in. Consumer choices will be influenced and many will reconsider how they seek and receive care.
Increasing Data Accessibility and Sharing
The pandemic management will require widespread testing and retesting programs as well as contract tracing efforts for all affected. Healthcare resource supply will need to be actively matched to demand pressures across geographies (and not just within a closed health system.) This will put new pressure on data accessibility and sharing. We will study this impact real-time as it unfolds.
Changes in day to day Business Operations
The “COVID Pause” has impacted the entire economy and how we do business. We are already adopting changes into our daily lives – both personal and professional – that will be long-lasting. All businesses will be impacted inside and outside of healthcare. Economic repercussions are a certainty. The Commonwealth Health team will analyze how this will impact the businesses that our clients operate in an effort to chart a course for continued success.