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: clinical quality and risk, 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.
We experienced the first peak of the pandemic in the northeastern states in spring, and then saw a second peak in our southern and western states in the summer. Whether you refer to the current COVID-19 trajectory as a third wave or a continued second peak, we are now in uncharted territory. We experienced the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day in the U.S. last week (87,164 new cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University) and the largest seven-day increase in new cases this week since the end of July (more than 500,000, as cited by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy). Recent projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecast that approximately 390,000 more people will die from COVID-19 by the beginning of February; that forecast rises past 480,000 if mandates to prevent spread are eased.
Our country was unprepared for COVID-19 when the first and second peaks hit, but the peaks were localized in certain parts of the country. This allowed providers and public health entities to share clinical staff, ship PPE to where it was needed most, and construct specialized back-up hospital facilities where ICU capacity was running short. This latest rise in cases is spread across the U.S. As winter hits, we will face a combination of the persisting pandemic and flu season, further taxing our healthcare facilities and clinicians, not to mention our communities. Clinicians are armed with better knowledge about how to treat the virus, but our resources will be stretched, and our patience and resilience is thinning. One critical care clinician described facing another declining COVID-19 patient: “As I read through his notes, I feel it all rush through me, the anticipation and the dread and the frustration and sadness of avoidable suffering.” We are facing unparalleled strain and tragedy in our nation and must do everything we can – informed by science – to minimize the spread of this pandemic and the irreplaceable losses it will create.
The election next week represents a fork in the road in terms of the future of U.S. healthcare delivery. While the U.S. House of Representatives is most certainly to sustain a Democratic majority, the scenarios that could result from the Presidential and Senate races have the potential to take healthcare down very different pathways. In our published paper from this week, “3 Issues to Watch in the 2020 Election: Implications for Providers,” we explore how the election outcome may potentially affect three of the most pressing healthcare delivery challenges facing the nation and its healthcare providers:
Our country’s attention is hyper-focused on the election and all the related issues, including the fact that we are more politically and socially divided than ever before, at a time of pandemic crisis when we should be pulling together. Regardless of the election outcome, we are heading into winter with unprecedented levels of virus spread, the likely deaths of hundreds of thousands more people, and progressively difficult times for all of us. We will need to muster the courage and tenacity to move beyond political divides and unite to face our country’s growing struggles – our health, the economy, systemic racism, and the future long-term impact of the pandemic and its deep effects, many of which we do not yet understand but must expect.
In this new analysis, The Chartis Center for Rural Health explores key factors in assessing the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rural health safety net, including access to intensive care unit beds, the reliance on outpatient service revenues and rural provider days cash on hand.
Leaders need to think broadly about the capabilities of their clinicians and staff to respond to COVID-19 capacity issues. One group primed for elevation and expansion of role is advanced practice providers (APPs).
With a growing acknowledgement of the longevity of COVID-19, the workforce will need ongoing support as they try to cope with the anticipated peaks and valleys of the curve, which will continue until there is an effective treatment or vaccine.