Healthcare After COVID-19: What will it look like?

As states make measures to alleviate economic burdens and reopen facilities for the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, key healthcare components undergo changes to provide best possible care to patients

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Valliei Chandrakumar, Contributing Writer, Carmel IN

Here in Carmel, Indiana, many families in quarantine are taking in news from Governor Eric Holcomb’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) briefing on May 1. In the daily, televised update, the governor, seated amongst experts in the state’s economic and public affairs, announced the 5-stage plan to have Indiana “back on track” by July 4th, the end of Stage 5 where retail stores, dining facilities, gyms, and personal maintenance amenities will be allowed to resume work at full capacity. With a plan of action in place and lots of free time, many are looking to a new, changed future and thinking about what America will look like after the worst of COVID-19 subsides.

The US healthcare system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a renewed sense of appreciation for healthcare workers in some Americans and distraught feelings over the lack of necessary medical components in others. Despite the fear and pain the global pandemic has caused for many, the innovation, flexibility, and ability to continue after an unexpected hit leaves America with a more prepared and adaptive healthcare system. COVID-19 brought a reassessment of hospitals as the first resort for medical dilemmas, an increase in telehealth appointments, and sparked open discussions about federal leadership in times of national emergencies.

In conversation with MSNBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd on April 8, emergency room physician Dr. Megan Ranney of private, not-for-profit Rhode Island Hospital said, “I think we’re going to see (after the pandemic subsides) increased cooperation, data sharing and hopefully, a change in the way we deliver care to our underserved, vulnerable populations and the way we prepare so we don’t get caught empty-handed in the next pandemic or national emergency.”

While Ranney did not comment on how the for-profit health care industry will change from the tribulations of COVID-19, she said civilian participation in accordance with public health advisories, like social distancing, will play a cyclical role in whether hospitals are able to provide the best quality of care with a necessary amount of resources for the health and safety of both the patient and the healthcare provider. 

With many families across the nation facing emotional and economic taxation, healthcare consumerism, the movement of information spreading to make patients active participants in their healthcare with the power of educated decision-making, is taking a hit during these times. Many healthcare providers’ patients are delaying primary care appointments, skipping prescriptions, and finding alternate options to going to a public medical facility and risking themselves with the possibility of obtaining COVID-19. The need to make financially responsible decisions for one’s health seems to have been overridden by civilians’ desires to protect themselves and their families.

Despite all the hardship we as a country have faced throughout the last few months, through this time, inconsistencies in the healthcare system have been openly pointed out, giving both healthcare providers and patients something to improve upon in their ramble towards better accessibility to appropriate treatment. While telemedicine and virtual provider-patient appointments was a quiet trend open to possibility in the 21st century setting, the concept rapidly matured with the pandemic and many healthcare consumers adopting it out of need to follow social distancing guidelines. This new take on modern healthcare procedure inspired many to change their perspective on the way they care for themselves and their families with the unlikely becoming very likely.

The American healthcare system has taken extreme measures to be more accommodating for those with a wide variety of health issues. In face of all the struggles it has been quickly thrown with, the system will reface and become stronger than before with the hopes that America will be more prepared in case of another pandemic.