Our research team breaks down this week’s top healthcare news.
In an age of unprecedented change, staying current has never been more important. Our team at Chartis is curating news most relevant to the healthcare industry and tracking the topics that are trending on seven key issues: high reliability care, digital and advanced technology, financial sustainability, health disparities, the health ecosystem of the future, partnerships, and the provider enterprise. Each week, we break down what’s happening and why it matters.
As we move into the second year of COVID-19, we face the third—and far worst—surge. Case numbers in the United States top 19 million, and the death toll is more than 364,000. The next few months are likely to bring continued infection, a severely short-staffed healthcare system, and increased numbers of patients facing long-haul symptoms.
Two vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, were developed, approved, and produced in record time, and a third may follow in 2021. However, following the approval process, the rollout of the two approved vaccines has been slower than planned at best (4 million doses delivered instead of the stated goal of 20 million) and chaotic at worst. Frontline workers, including numerous primary care physicians, are yet to be vaccinated. Guidelines for distribution are interpreted at the state level, and many of the states have relied on hospitals and health systems to distribute the vaccines. Often primary care providers are not affiliated with a larger health system, and thus may fall further down on the prioritization list, despite the high risk they face. Additionally, new variants of COVID have been identified in the UK and South Africa. Initial indications are that current vaccines would still be effective on the variants, but that remains to be seen.
Despite the worst still potentially yet to come, there are also glimmers that an end to the pandemic could be in our future. We must improve the vaccine rollout, while continuing to maintain distancing and mask practices. Improvements to distribution must include:
Beyond the vaccine, we must consider what long-term effects COVID will have on us and our healthcare system. Burnout is at an all-time high, long-haul patients will continue to need care even after a successful vaccine rollout, care and outcome inequities have been widened, and many rural hospitals and physician offices may be forced to close, leaving communities further underserved. We go into year two with optimism, but there is still much work to be done for that hope to be realized.
As we reflect on a tumultuous past year and consider what’s likely to come in 2021, several themes warrant highlighting:
The healthcare ecosystem is changing as investment and attention shift, advances are made in medicine and technology, and traditional and non-traditional entities adopt new roles.
UnitedHealth Group's Optum to Buy Change Healthcare for $13B
Applying behavioral health insights, this paper presents a strategy for healthcare leaders to communicate and operate in ways that address patients’ and employees’ pandemic-inspired anxieties and fears, alleviate tension, and foster stability.
As health systems seek to address COVID-19’s economic and patient care challenges, success increasingly hinges on the ability to create high-performing provider enterprises
Where can chemotherapy infusions be delivered safely? Many are re-examining the answer to that question in light of the evolving need for care delivery innovation that expands access to care while safeguarding the health of immunocompromised patients.