Emergence From COVID-19: Imperatives for Health System Leaders

The COVID-19 crisis has brought great adversity, and our health systems and academic centers are responding with innovation. Policymakers have rapidly lifted myriad barriers to providing care in innovative and novel ways, and health systems have rapidly scaled up virtual care, hospital-at-home programs and home-based care. Telehealth video and phone visits have ballooned from the tens or hundreds to many thousands per day at major institutions, prompting rapid acceleration in digital patient engagement.

During the crisis, important changes have been made in typically unwieldy health system organizational structures. Operational and policy decisions have been made quickly and nimbly, and coordination and communication processes have been vastly enhanced under the pressure of immediate needs. The priorities of recent weeks have focused on protecting health workers, acquiring PPE and special supplies, ramping up telehealth capabilities, establishing COVID-19 units, managing clinic closures and reopenings, and a myriad of other complex undertakings.

In “Emergence From COVID-19: Imperatives for Health System Leaders,” Manatt Health examines organizational imperatives for healthcare providers to consider as they continue to adapt to and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. The immediate imperatives are to safely resume elective clinical services, stabilize finances and support physician practices to get back to a semblance of normal operations. Next-stage priorities explored in the paper include shoring up tertiary and quaternary services, where academic health centers and large health systems have a natural advantage, and which provide the margins that sustain academic and community missions. Longer term, the paper suggests a focus on building the next-generation, distributed, highly interconnected, community-engaged and extensively digital system of care that will be the lynchpin of a resilient health system.

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