COVID-19 has helped shatter the myth that receiving heath care support remotely is substandard. Certainly, there are some activities that need to be conducted in a physician’s office – we are not able to perform surgeries at home…yet. But there are a tremendous number of services that can be conducted anywhere anytime and I would argue are even better accomplished remotely.
The University of Southern California (USC) recently hosted a Body Computing Conference that highlighted the impact COVID-19 has had on the perception of health care and the obvious discrepancies in access, particularly for low resourced individuals and families. It has also brought attention to numerous emergency approval acts that the government can take to rapidly study, create, test, and deploy medical interventions as needed. A key point made throughout the conference was that the ability to monitor a person at home can have dramatic impacts on their everyday health but it can also significantly reduce the need to visit hospitals. With home health monitoring, issues can be addressed more quickly, with minor interventions, and typically at a lower cost. At one point they stated that with home monitoring and feedback, heart patients dropped hospital visits from 40% to 2%!
However, and this “but” is a big one – home monitoring costs less, requires you to see and spend time with a physician less, results in fewer medicines taken, and reduces the likelihood you’ll have to go to the hospital and when you do, the length of stay will be shortened. While every one of these outcomes is positive for Americans and their families, especially given the lowered cost and barrier to access which allows more people to get the care they need, these results also reflect an enormous reduction in the multi-trillion dollar health care system that we now have the United States. Stated another way, given that health care is a for-profit business in our nation, it means the goal is to make money. Period. Full stop. All the efficiencies described above reduce the profit bottom line and that, essentially, means that the true goal of the health care industry is missed.
Many Americans on my travels around the country stated that if we have a for-profit-based health industry that competition will be higher. My rebuttal is that the people who go into this business are already, by personality, driven to compete. What the for-profit structure does in actuality is define mission goal by money instead of health. Do you want the best health care….or the most expensive one?