Doctors, hospitals, state and federal government agencies along with drug and insurance companies have all made concessions to the public during the time of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. This emergency affects every American so it stands to reason that what follows will too. But will common sense, red tape cutting, sensible changes that benefit patients remain, or be disposed of like so much medical waste? And what about preparations for future outbreaks? Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein of the Houston Healthcare Initiative shares his views on this topic with his podcast audience. The podcast is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Libsyn, and on www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.
While remote access to doctors via Internet based communications is nothing new, it was never widely used until the outbreak of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. But will patients continue to use this convenience? “It depends on what insurance companies will cover as well as what the regulations are from the state board of medical examiners,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “There are plenty of good reasons to maintain this capability. Remote locations, lack of transportation resources and the reality that sick people are not keen to go to a clinic or doctor’s office whether they have the flu, a stomachache or even the Coronavirus should all help persuade the insurance industry to maintain payments for remote appointments.”
Lessons from the Pandemic – Rapid Strike Force
The speed that a viral outbreak is met with can prevent wider infection. Borrowing from an analogy coined by Bill Gates, Dr. Goldstein compared treatment to fighting a war. “We need a standing army to spring into action when a virus is first found and ready to travel anywhere in the world to go to work,” he said.
Dr. Goldstein envisions teams of doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, virologists, and other medical professionals who can very quickly construct field hospitals on the site of the outbreak, isolate and treat the sick people and find treatments for them. “This would be like a ‘Mobile Army Surgical Hospital’ or MASH unit; fully equipped, staffed and right at the front line. The enemy is disease and must be fought aggressively.”
Goldstein thinks that the federal government must put a greater emphasis on public health and do more to keep people from getting sick. “This is not the first epidemic we’ve faced in recent years just the most recent,” Dr. Goldstein said. He described the many recent health crises the world has faced and faces including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, MERS and lately the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. “There will be no excuse for any lack of preparedness when this happens again, and we know it will happen again.”