Two practicing clinicians on the CorroHealth team recently discussed how the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed since March 2020. Dr. Bob Hitchcock and Courtney Rulon, FNP-C/ENP-C are both practicing clinicians who also help drive The T System solution from CorroHealth.
Their experiences in working in the Emergency Department and Urgent Care settings during the pandemic were not uncommon to others in healthcare in 2020. However, several themes were pulled from their discussion that were worthy of sharing.
Theme 1: Fatigue is Impacting Patience
Early in the COVID pandemic, the support shown for frontline workers was strong and heartfelt. However, after months of social distancing, a presidential election, and social tensions, fatigue set in. Patients are now beginning to show signs of fatigue and they’re losing their patience with the process.
“There is lessened patience by patients. The happening in the year of 2020 is why I became a provider. I want to help people and optimize skill during these types of situations.” – Courtney Rulon
While patient fatigue is taking root, the fatigue from clinicians, while still there, seems to be leveling off. “Chaos and uncertainty as healthcare professionals and providers is not as radical anymore. We are beginning to understand the virus. There actually is PPE now. There are workflows. We know more about the virus and the contraction of the virus. Time and experience have allowed us to learn and grow.” Dr. Hitchcock shared.
Theme 2: Settings have Changed, Permanently
From the initial onslaught of the pandemic to today, telehealth has been front and center in most healthcare conversations. Ongoing clinical interactions with patients taking place via telehealth have increased demand for the service and established it as a permanent fixture for healthcare.
The clients Dr. Hitchcock and Courtney interact with daily are all discussing their future telehealth plans given the rapid uptick in adoption and demand. “We know organizations can thrive with telehealth. Patients have come to accept it as a first step for seeking care. However, there needs to be a robust, long-term telehealth strategy for providers. There is demand from patients; however, the reimbursement model has to make sense compared to in-person settings.” Dr. Hitchcock shared.
Theme 3: Life Goes On
While major pauses in plans have taken place, leadership in healthcare continue to think further down the road than just the pandemic. Looking at technology implementations as a data point, go-lives have continued to take place even amid the crisis our healthcare providers have faced. When asked why investments in technology are still being made amid the pandemic, Dr. Hitchcock shared, “Some had not invested in the technology to operate amid a pandemic environment. Other options had to be explored.” He went on to say, “We know that this is temporary and our leaders can see past the pandemic and are planning for the post COVID world as well.”
Theme 4: Hope Exists
While clinician burnout is still a real concern, there does seem to be a stronger sense of hope than at the beginning of the pandemic. News regarding the advancement of vaccines combined with therapeutics are re-energizing our healthcare providers at a pivotal time.
2020 has been a year that none will soon forget. The transition to 2021 brings with it hard lessons and advancements forced upon us during a trying time. The overarching sense from our clinicians is that there is something to look forward to in the coming year.
We have our healthcare providers to thank for all the effort put into addressing one of the more trying times in recent history. Here is to 2021!