It’s hard to believe that we are hitting the final stretch of the year! Each fall, as the weather turns cooler, we spend a fair amount of time reflecting on the results and learnings from the past ten months. That information forms the foundation of how we build our plans for the coming year. This has been a year like no other I can recall! The learnings are vast, daunting and exhilarating all at the same time!
Since COVID-19 began in late February, we have poured ourselves into researching how we can help our customers make the best of what is a horrific time in the history of modern healthcare. We developed a product, PriorityQ, to help manage the ever-growing backlog of elective surgeries. We’ve refined our processes, understanding that most of our work has to be done remotely for the near term. And we’ve spent time listening to our customers about the challenges they believe will shape the next 18 months.
I think that the two biggest universal drivers for hospital leaders that I’ve heard are how they can maximize revenue from their surgery suites (by taking advantage of every minute of OR time) and how they can minimize costs (through more efficient use of resources and materials). That makes a ton of sense, for clinicians and administrators alike. The simple reality is that if hospitals can’t achieve success in these two areas, they will struggle to fund other areas in the hospital that are essential for providing care. Hospitals are no different than any other entity when it comes to fiscal responsibility in these difficult times.
Early in the pandemic, I sensed that most of us believed this would be a short-term crisis. We anticipated that solutions would be in place when the “warm weather swept across the globe” and the virus would subsequently wither away. Everyone was focused on when we could “get back to normal.” Now, in our 8th month dealing with this pandemic, I think everyone realizes that COVID-19 will be part of our go-forward planning for the foreseeable future. Viruses mutate; viruses linger; viruses can be seasonal. COVID-19 is a virus that is incredibly strong and absurdly easy to transmit. Masks, social distancing, limiting the size of gatherings, washing hands frequently, are all going to be part of our daily routines for quite some time. Our “new normal” will be different than our day to day prior to late February. We have to not only accept that notion, but also apply some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
More than anything, my biggest takeaway is that we have to trust our experts and the science behind it, even when that science makes life a bit inconvenient. We have to embrace the safety measures as a means of protecting not just ourselves but the folks we encounter. We have to realize that even when a vaccine becomes readily available, it won’t prevent COVID-19 from circulating, just like the flu shot doesn’t keep everyone from getting the flu! We also have to embrace the fact that while we all have a need for social connections, we have to get creative in new ways to build stronger relationships. Moreover, we have to treasure those relationships and recognize that when we get the chance to attend an event or gathering again, it will be all that much more valuable and meaningful.
It concerns me that somehow politics have entered into healthcare. When your loved one is struggling on a respirator, your thoughts are not on what political affiliations you have but on making sure your loved one gets the absolute best care possible. As we head down the final stretch of 2020 and turn our focus to the future, I’m unbelievably proud of our staff’s ability to constantly be thinking about how we can help our customers with those two critical priorities – maximizing revenue and minimizing costs; and how we can adjust our day to day to deliver for them regardless of whether that is “how we’ve always done it” or if it’s a new approach. As a species we are capable of incredible evolution. Let’s embrace the lessons we’ve learned and apply them to make sure the perioperative journey and every aspect of the critical care experience can be as beneficial as possible for our customers and their patients. Together, we truly can lift each other up!
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