The COVID-19 Catalyst And The Need for Leaders Who Can Reframe Healthcare

On the next monthly #HITMC Chat, we are very excited to have a special guest – the amazing speaker and podcast host, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth @ZeevNeuwirth. His book Reframing Healthcare – A Roadmap for Creating Disruptive Change is excellent, especially for marketers who will recognize many of the concepts he puts forward.

Please join the next #HITMC Chat – Tuesday April 14th at noon ET (9am PT or for your local time click here). Hope to see you!

Article by Dr. Zeev Neuwirth

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention. I think our current collective COVID-19 experience underscores this point in spades. The COVID-19 pandemic has created more disruption and change in healthcare in the past few months than we have experienced in the past few years.

Many have referred to this as a ‘force-function’. I refer to it as the ‘COVID-19 Catalyst’ effect. Some of the effect is a direct result of the pandemic and some of it is an indirect result – stemming from the precautions such as social distancing and lockdowns. We’ve seen dramatic shifts – literally overnight – in the adoption of telehealth and virtual care platforms. We’ve seen dramatic shifts – literally overnight – in regulatory changes around clinical payment and clinical licensure. We’ve seen dramatic shifts – literally overnight – in the ramp up and redeployment of resources.

While the intense initial focus is on testing and treatment – and preparing for the surge of the pandemic, there also exists a need to prepare for the second, third and fourth waves – some of which will not be infectious. For example – in-person visits have been, for the most part, cancelled as practices convert to virtual/telephonic visits – and for good reason.  Individuals (patients) entering into medical offices, exam rooms, emergency departments and hospitals will more rapidly and extensively spread the pandemic. So, the cancelling of in-person medical visits and the cancelling of elective surgeries is critically important in reducing the surge. Another reason for cancelling in-person visits and elective procedures is that patients with any chronic illness are particularly susceptible and vulnerable to the SAR-COR-2 virus. The emerging data is demonstrating the risk of hospitalization, artificial ventilation and death is much higher in individuals who have a pre-existing chronic medical condition.

But – as a result of that, patients with chronic illness are having their visits postponed, and many are falling in between the cracks. These are the folks that are most vulnerable to the social distancing and lockdowns. They are the ones who may not be able to get out of their homes to go shopping for food and supplies, or to pick up their medications. And truth be told, these are the segments that are again, most vulnerable to becoming infected by being in public places such as grocery stores and pharmacies. So – we’re in a bit of a perfect storm when it comes to patients with chronic disease, as well as for those who are socio-economically vulnerable.

So – there is a need to be thinking about the 2nd, 3rd and 4th wave impacts of the pandemic. To prepare and hopefully mitigate these following waves of the pandemic tsunami.

There is also a need to learn the lessons – and quickly. There are ‘silver-lining’ lessons to be gleaned by this experience. We need to be reflective and learn these lessons, so we can begin to understand which innovations we should continue and build upon, and which we should abandon and sunset. We’re seeing innovations being deployed that enhance convenience and lower costs We’re seeing innovations that leverage technology to increase access and connectivity with patients. We’re seeing innovations that are creating and enhancing patient engagement and enablement.

We need to ask the right questions and learn these lessons because, contrary to what our irrationally rational mind tells us, we are not going to return to ‘normal’.

There will be a ‘new normal’ and that new normal will be fluctuating and emerging over the next few months, if not years. The definition of a catalyst is that it fundamentally changes the solution. And that is going to be true for the COVID-19 Catalyst. The critical adaptive skill and leadership behavior in the post COVID-19 era will be the ability to be reflective and to take the time to ask these questions. The critical adaptive skill and leadership behavior in the post COVID-19 era wlll be the ability to be reflective and not reflexive. The critical adaptive skill and leadership behavior in the post COVID-19 era will be the ability to translate the situational strategies into sustaining ones.

And there will be a need for leaders in the post COVID-19 era. There will be a need for leaders who can reorient their thinking and redefine the problems to be solved on behalf of their customers, their communities and their country. There will be a need for leaders who can rebrand their value proposition and redesign from a human-centered perspective – addressing the changing needs & expectations in the market. There will be a need for leaders who can reorganize their assets and redirect their resources. There will be a need for leaders who can reframe healthcare.

Join me on the next #HITMC tweetchat on Tuesday April 14th at noon ET (9am PT) when we will be discussing the following questions:

  • T1 In what ways are you seeing healthcare delivery being fundamentally transformed and in what changes/transformations do you see lasting for next few years?
  • T2 What are HIT vendors and HIT doing to support providers in addressing and solving these problems/challenges?
  • T3 From a marketing mindset perspective, how do you see healthcare consumer needs and expectations changing? How do you see the fundamental branding & value proposition of HC changing?
  • T4 How will your own work and your branding and value proposition change in next few months and years?
  • T5 What are some ‘silver-linings’ from this COVID-19 pandemic?

About the Author

Zeev Neuwirth MD serves as the Chief Clinical Executive for Care Transformation & Strategic Services at Atrium Health – one of the largest, leading non-profit hospital systems in the country. Prior to this most recent appointment, Dr. Neuwirth served as the Senior Medical Director for Population Health; and prior to that, as the Chief Clinical Executive of the Atrium Health Medical Group – a group consisting of approximately 2000 providers, proactively providing medical care to over 1.1 million primary care patients, and serving a community of over 2 million people in the greater Charlotte area. In this capacity, he was responsible for ambulatory quality improvement and leading the redesign of the Primary Care ecosystem at Atrium Health. He also served as an executive leader in the development of the Atrium Health Care Management division, Retail Care & Virtual Care.

In August 2017, Dr. Neuwirth launched a healthcare podcast entitled, Creating a New Healthcare. The podcast has been named as one of the most popular healthcare podcasts of 2018 and was awarded “Healthcare Podcast of the Year” by HITMC in April 2019.

Most recently, Dr. Neuwirth has published a book, Reframing Healthcare – A Roadmap for Creating Disruptive Change, which was released on Amazon this past April. The book was rated on Amazon as the #1 New Release in Healthcare Administration & Policy, and currently holds a 5 star rating. In this book, Dr. Neuwirth outlines a comprehensive, sustainable and scale-able roadmap to transforming healthcare delivery into a more consumer-oriented, humanistic and value-based system of care.

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