In light of the COVID-19 pandemic hospitals are facing catastrophic financial challenges. The American Hospital Association estimates a four-month impact of $202.6 billion in losses for hospitals and health systems – That’s an average of $50.7 billion per month.
With these mounting losses some systems ands organizations have jumped on board with a media campaign suggesting that we ‘stop medical distancing.’ It’s gentle media-driven nudge to remind us to come to the doctor. It addresses the visceral fear of being in a place that the public perceives as at risk. Beyond hospitals the American Heart Association has made their own edgy suggestion that we don’t die of doubt.
But beyond fear is the reality that as more patients turn COVID positive the numbers of those who buy in to the ‘stop medical distancing’ campaign may not be allowed on-site for their procedure or visit. As hospitals create ‘safe havens’ through aggressive screening, the numbers of patients eligible for elective care can be expected to erode substantially in hot/warm COVID spots over the near term. The creeping problem is the reality of containing infection within hospitals.
Nationwide, hospitals have identified 5,142 coronavirus infections apparently acquired inside hospitals from May 14 to June 21, according to figures provided to The Wall Street Journal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The figure could be higher; the reporting is voluntary.
Success will involve a novel balance between selling the ‘safe haven’ with service delivery to the afflicted through COVID-designated clinics.
Stop medical distancing recommends that you stay six feet from one another except for your doctor. FWIW, there’s no mention of staying home and close to your computer monitor.
As hospitals squander this opportunity to create novel channels of health delivery through remote care, the stop medical distancing is the closest thing you’ll see to an anti-telemedicine campaign.