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How COVID-19 Will Affect the Future of Healthcare

COVID-19 has changed our lives in significant ways. And with so much still unknown, it can be hard to imagine or plan for what is yet to come. What we do know is that the new coronavirus has left its mark, and it’s unlikely that life will return completely to pre-COVID-19 norms.

This may be particularly true of healthcare. During the pandemic, healthcare providers across the nation had to modify the ways we work, to ensure our patients could safely continue getting the care they needed. Many began offering telehealth appointments to connect with patients in their homes. Policies changed to protect those visiting and working in our care sites. And some support programs went virtual. These changes were necessary, but some also provided unexpected value to patients and providers.

“As devastating as COVID-19 has been, I think it will also be a catalyst for needed changes,” says OhioHealth internal medicine hospitalist Grace Joy Walton, MD. “This includes the ongoing use of telemedicine, the appropriate use of emergency departments and urgent cares, reducing avoidable hospital admissions, and bridging disparities in healthcare among the disenfranchised and minority populations.”

Walton is one of several OhioHealth providers who weighed in on the changes in healthcare delivery, and shared which ones they believe will have a lasting impact.

Telehealth is here to stay.

“The use of telemedicine as a whole will increase because people don’t want to be exposed to others who are sick, especially during the flu season.”
– Michael Poland, MD, OhioHealth Physician Group

“We will continue to utilize telemedicine at a high rate.”
– Mini Somasundaram, MD, Comprehensive Women’s Care

“I see a possible setting where care is delivered remotely more often.”
– John Oehler, DO, OhioHealth Physician Group

Home care will increase.

“I believe we will see growth in utilizing outside resources for patient care, and will be providing care at home as much as possible. This will keep hospitals and doctors’ offices focused on severe, acute concerns.”
– Kristen Mueller, CNP, OhioHealth Physician Group

The number of patients seeking unnecessary care will decrease.

“Hopefully, society will have learned that postoperative pain and comfort measures really do work, such as diversion, heat and ice, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.”
– Andi Bell, CNP, OhioHealth Physician Group

Safety will remain a top priority.

“We will use what we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver healthcare in a safer manner. Extra precautions are necessary to prevent exposure to viruses, and they will need to continue indefinitely because other novel viruses will likely emerge or reemerge as problems.”
– John Oehler, DO, OhioHealth Physician Group

“COVID-19 is going to increase awareness of how we can decrease the spread of infectious diseases, especially viral diseases like influenza.”
– Michael Poland, MD, OhioHealth Physician Group

“Society is now focused on hygiene and cleanliness to kills germs, such as washing hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and covering your cough.”
– Andi Bell, CNP, OhioHealth Physician Group

Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider will be more important than ever.

“Everyone needs a primary care physician.”
– Andi Bell, CNP, OhioHealth Physician Group

Human touch and communication will serve as their own form of medicine.

“The human touch is very important, yet it is vanishing.”
– David Hyde, MD, OhioHealth Hardin Memorial Hospital

“I will never underestimate the power of effective communication and the kindness of human touch.”
– Grace Joy Walton, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

“Communicate with your providers – not just about medical concerns, but about stress at work or home. Ask for referrals to social services or our Chaplain as needed.”
– Andi Bell, CNP, OhioHealth Physician Group