The US healthcare system has been tested over the past several weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak. All individuals are praising healthcare workers for the sacrifices they are making to save American lives. Makeshift hospitals are being built in convention centers and parks across the country to treat all patients. While not all patients who visit the hospital have COVID19, hospitals and states adapted to the changing environment to treat as many patients as possible. Even manufacturers in different industries are joining together to fight the coronavirus and producing personal protective equipment (PPE) along with ventilators. Considering how the US and hospitals have responded to the outbreak, there are a few lessons we can learn to better prepare our system if another outbreak in the future should occur. Here’s how US healthcare will change from COVID19.
The healthcare system is experiencing unprecedented changes that are benefiting everyone. Normal businesses such as hotels are being converted into hospitals. Parks have shifted into hospitals. Parking lots are now testing centers for coronavirus. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is doctors being able to practice in different states. States are loosening restrictions on acquiring separate licenses to practice in their state as a shortage of doctors is running rampant across the country. Telemedicine has seen a sharp increase in feasibility. As we all practice social distancing, doctors are now implementing a method to diagnose and recommend treatments for all patients. As telemedicine gains popularity during the pandemic, the feasibility of it may increase as more of it is used and we learn more about issues we can troubleshoot to make the system more efficient. Before the pandemic, telemedicine was seen as an inferior option to face to face consultations. Doctors rarely used the service and patients were not eager either to give telemedicine a try. However, telemedicine is a different way to deliver consultations and visits.
Defining health care providers:
Health care workers have always suffered from burnout long before the current pandemic. With so many social factors determining a patient’s health, including a lack of accessible transportation, adequate housing, and accessibility to food, it’s been difficult for patients to live healthy lives and follow doctor recommendations on treating them. Not to mention the lack of health care workers currently residing in one city or area, it’s difficult for health care providers to keep up with the demands of patients. Covid19 ha only worsened burnouts among health care workers, as a spike in hospitalizations and testing has caused some health care workers to contract the virus themselves. Furthermore, family members of those hospitalized with the coronavirus are not permitted to visit their family members. This means that health care workers are now seen as caregivers as they are one of the last people to see should they, unfortunately, pass away from the virus.
Several measures are looking for ways to increase capacity. From doctors and nurses selected specifically for treatments transitioning to help care for Covid19 patients to senior medical students being allowed to graduate early to help doctors and nurses on the front lines, the healthcare system is expanding its pool. Governments are also allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to expand their job duties while not having a doctor present. Expanding the reach out of hospitals, the demand for test kits has sharply increased. This increase has caused military and nonprofits to administer the test to save pulling health care workers away from front lines.
As with any pandemic or crisis, humans learn and adapt to prevent such a crisis from happening again. Our healthcare system has never been tested as it has currently, and now is the best time to implement technologies that will help alleviate stress from healthcare workers while also taking a look at what improvements we can make in our healthcare system.