Guest post by Motient co-founder Dr. Richard Watson
Recently, I was on several calls concerning the rise of COVID-19 cases and the burden to the health care system. There’s no doubt that there is a point where challenges become crisis — and crisis becomes collapse.
The constant influx of “Breaking News” into our psyche has blunted any ability to decipher the nuances of this escalation.
And, as this is not our first go at this sort of thing, most of the stakeholders have exhausted their list of mitigations. The problems are well known:
- Among the unvaccinated individuals, there is a real percentage that will need hospitalization and intensive care.
- No one vaccinated or unvaccinated has complete immunity.
- Everyone will have an experience with the virus.
Vaccination does not prevent infection, but it will most assuredly keep you from needing hospitalization. The young do well; the older, the obese, and the unhealthy fare less well.
Faster, Harder, More is Not Working. It Never Does.
When I was a doc on the sidelines at the small college football games in the town where I was a family physician, I was fortunate to get to experience quite a few halftime locker room speeches — some effective, some… not so effective. We weren’t a great team, most of the players were there for the academics, not for some higher sporting aspiration. More often than not, we would be behind on the scoreboard as we came in at the half. The guys would be worn and tired, but always competitive.
I remember one particular halftime ended with the plan: “We’re going to run faster, block harder, tackle more, and we’re gonna win this game!” Little consolation for guys who were already giving it all they had — not one player takes to the field to do less.
But I remember one coach, who had the fortune to be on the coaching staff of a Super Bowl championship NFL team. His words went something like this: “They are killing us in the secondary, so we’re going to switch it up. We’re going to a four-man front and blitz more. On offense, we’re going to keep it on the ground even if we don’t score in the third quarter. We’ll draw them in close and then we’re going to open it up in the fourth quarter.”
A real plan — something tangible, thoughtful, and informed. The players knew what they needed to do and there was buy-in that the second half would be different.
Changing the Game Plan Utilizing the Tools We Have
There are few times in the last two years that this global scenario has afforded us the ability to have a tangible, thoughtful, and informed plan. But we know more now than we ever have. We have more tools at our disposal than ever before, and we have people who day in and day out are committed to taking the field — they just need a plan.
Emergency declarations and crisis standards of care are a knot at the end of the rope, a stopgap, a plan of last resort. Essentially, it is telling our caregivers and first responders to run faster, block harder, and tackle more.
We must change the game plan. Here’s how:
- Reimbursement must be changed to allow compensation for the type of patient movements that haven’t had to occur in the system before: longer distances, different destinations, movements up and down the chain more freely.
- We must address agency nursing that allows poaching of staff from one state to another.
- We must use the technology that already exists to improve communication, leverage data, and improve networking at all levels of the system to enhance care in place, match demand with resources and protect quality.
State and federal leaders are constantly looking for new ways to change the COVID-19 landscape. No one likes to deliver the same ineffective byline.
We have the power to do something tangible. We have the information to make concise, effective change.