It is both premature and presumptuous to talk about life in a post-COVID-19 environment, particularly now that the rate of infection is once again climbing in much of the world. But even though this novel coronavirus has only been around for a matter of several months, America’s healthcare community has already absorbed some important lessons driven home by the pandemic—lessons that are already starting to re-shape the ways in which medical services will be provided going forward, placing greater emphasis on outcomes than on processes—less on “break and fix,” and more on comprehensive patient care.
One key lesson stems from the way the healthcare industry is currently structured, where the main sources of hospital revenue derive from non-emergency procedures—skilled hands-on care like cataract removals, bariatric surgery, hernia repair, blood transfusions, and so on. At the same time, while very little income is derived from standard exam room collections of vital statistics, health systems have become the venue for those types of services as well. But with the pandemic peaking, most elective surgery procedures have been postponed, and many other patients are choosing not to come into a hospital environment for tests where people suffering from COVID-19 have been concentrated, preferring instead to go for routine health checks including eye exams, colonoscopies, and bone density scans, in their physicians’ offices.