Life After the Pandemic

May 04, 2020 | Kaija Stern - Doximity Marketing Manager

Hospital marketers are beginning to look ahead to what the world will be like after the pandemic. How will life change at both an individual and institutional level, and how will that affect healthcare? Here’s what our team at Doximity anticipates in the post-COVID healthcare industry:


Health at Home

As health systems begin to move forward, many hope that there will be a switch on the focus of reactive care to preventive care. Following months of stay-at-home orders, patients may not feel the need to venture out to the hospital for a check-up with their primary care provider. Engaging over video calls will be the way forward for many. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) increased coverage for telemedicine services, and it would be no surprise for private insurers to follow suit. Furthermore, state and federal governments have been relaxing the stringent rule that physicians must have a license in each state that they practice, which could lead to more telemedicine availability. CEO of Jefferson Health, Dr. Stephen Klasko, explained in an interview on the future of telemedicine “If there was a pandemic 30 years ago, everybody would have been lined up at the bank on Friday to cash their check. That’s not an issue anymore since 90% of banking happens at home. We think the same thing will happen with health, so our goal is to use this crisis to get people used to [care] happening at home, which will help us in the next crisis.”


Who Does What?

The pandemic has obviously created a surge in demand for health care. In order to combat this need, many hospitals have redirected physicians and care teams, who were previously focused on elective treatments, to work in COVID-19 designated wards. Furthermore, fourth-year medical students were given the unprecedented opportunity to graduate early and join the front-line in hospitals. Although this need will eventually slow down with the virus, other demands will surge, including outpatient care as COVID survivors rehabilitate, diagnostic services will be increasing tests, and clinical services will be administering vaccines at a rapid rate. This leads us to ask: can some of these outpatient tasks be administered by individuals without advanced medical degrees? Robert Huckman, Faculty Chair of the Health Care Initiative at Harvard Business School, speculates that this future public health workforce could be modeled after Teach for America or the Peace Corps, attracting recent college graduates eager to gain hands-on experience for a few years. This group would “not only be able to mobilize in acute moments of national crisis but would, during calmer periods, be available to address the social needs of patients suffering from undertreated chronic illness.”


The New Normal

You can barely turn on the news or go online without hearing the phrase “The New Normal.” The problem is, what does that actually mean? More specifically, what does it mean for hospitals? When hospitals reopen and elective procedures begin again, COVID patients will have to be separated from the rest. Masks, limiting family member visits, and constant testing for staff will all be routine procedures. But like all viruses that came before, coronavirus will be overcome. So then what happens? One of the first post-pandemic obstacles that hospitals will face is getting patients to trust in the safety of the system again. After delays in many elective procedures and nonessential surgeries, many predict an increase in cancer diagnoses, among other illnesses. It is vital that the patient is able to reestablish trust in the health system again. And this is where the marketers come in. Developing outreach to patients and new strategies to communicate with a timid community will ultimately mean the survival of hospitals under “The New Normal.”