The desert in Springtime is stunning to me.  The monochromatic brown of winter begins to recede and colorful new life somehow reemerges.  In spite of all adversity, it always returns.  This COVID-19 pandemic will also recede in time.  The isolation of this long winter will be replaced by blossoms of new life.  Some early blooms are already visible.

The most beautiful and widespread new growth is the ubiquitous outpouring of love and support from our community.  We are coordinating a steady stream of donated meals for our front line workers.  We have had community members form a chain (six feet apart) around our hospitals at shift change with posters bearing messages of love and support.  First responders have formed impromptu parades around our facilities, cheering on our workforce.  And our workforce has emerged heroic.  They have leaned into the fear and recommitted to service.  They have re-trained to transfer to areas where they are needed most.  And the entire system is aligned around one purpose – to support the front line so that they can deliver care.  

Perhaps less inspiring, but just as real, are the changes to the business of healthcare.  While we struggle with the lost revenues of cancelled elective procedures, there are some promising blossoms that I hope will outlast this COVID crisis;

  1. 1. Virtual Care is finally taking hold.  After years of preparing ourselves to be “digital transaction ready”, we had only climbed to a mere 8% of visits conducted on-line.  After 7 weeks of COVID-19, 80% of primary care visits are now virtual.  I don’t see us returning to the old world. Our customers will choose face-to-face or virtual based on their convenience and needs, not our model.

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Author: Clay HoldermanAs Executive Vice President and COO for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a not-for-profit integrated system of hospitals, clinics, a medical group and one of the nation’s largest provider-led health plans, Clay Holderman leads operational alignment across the health system and is focused on the continued transformation of the delivery of care to achieve the quadruple aim. During his 22 years in health care leadership, Clay has been successful in both for-profit and not-for-profit systems, led new program development, hospital consolidation, new hospital conception and construction, and health system performance improvement.