COVID-19's financial impact & how digital health advancements will help patients

COVID-19 has had a worldwide impact on health systems. It has impacted healthcare assesibility, supply chain delivery of food, medical supplies, sanitation, masks, and the ability to travel locally and internationally. It  effects the daily mental health, and financial stability of companies and families.  In the United States it accelerated changes already available, such as telehealth. 

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on the healthcare industry, with new potential for digital health initiatives and data-sharing to help patients and public health surveillance, according to Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic.

The economic stress of the pandemic may accelerate mergers of health care providers, hospitals, and other entities such as imaging, physical therapy, laboratories, and perhaps even  payors. 

1. There is a strong possibility for future mergers, acquisitions and layoffs as hospitals and health systems have been forced to spend more money on COVID-19 care while canceling many surgeries and other appointments. Ms. Faulkner said many of Epic's customers have experienced revenue declines between 35 percent and 55 percent.

2. Hospitals will continue to push patient remote monitoring and telehealth programs; she said Epic calculated there have been between 50 and 100 times more video visits being done by clients compared to months before the pandemic.

3. Hospitals and health systems will standardize data definitions so regulators such as the CDC can more quickly access data needed for monitoring public health emergencies.

"If people define the data differently, then you can't aggregate it. So that's a big problem that there isn't enough standardization. And just collecting the data when it isn't standardized doesn't get you very far," Ms. Faulkner said. 

4. There will be a greater focus on public health surveillance, and Epic may help governments by sharing patient data that can derive insights for social distancing guidelines.

5. Did the the pandemic expose any critical flaws in the healthcare system, adding: "This happened so quickly. There was a shortage of [intensive care unit] beds, a shortage of ventilators. So I don't want to say that anything was a flaw. Because when something so out of the ordinary happens, is that a flaw or is it just we've learned something and next time, if this happens again, we'll be better prepared?"

Judy Faulkner on COVID-19's financial impact & how digital health advancements will help patients