What Makes Covid-19 the Worst Health Crisis Most of Us Have Seen?

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

After living through the first four months of emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare leaders are stepping back to assess the longer-term challenges they are facing from this unprecedented health threat. First, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed many cracks in our healthcare system, ranging from an inadequate supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) to the disproportionate impact the virus has had on America’s underserved population (Landi, 2020).

Second, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the U.S., with no end in sight. Leaders are realizing that the past four months were not just a one-time spike in patients—the uptick in cases is continuing, and there may even be a harsher outbreak coming later this year. In May and June, as “stay at home” restrictions were lifted and various re-opening plans were implemented, cases throughout much of the country began to skyrocket (CDC, 2020).

Growing Use of Telehealth

Third, the use of telehealth is booming as a result of the need to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Neil Patel, president of HealthBox, was recently quoted by Fierce Healthcare as sharing, “We’ve seen health systems doing a decade’s worth of work in the span of a few months” (Egan, 2020). Telehealth systems that were rapidly put together to serve the immediate need formed by COVID-19, now must be re-examined and retooled for the long term.

COVID-19’s Financial Pressures for Healthcare

And finally, not only were hospitals absorbing the influx of COVID-19 patients and subsequent supply shortages, they were also suffering large financial losses as profitable elective surgeries and primary care appointments were being postponed. According to a recent American Hospital Association (AHA) report, COVID-19 has created unparalleled financial pressures for America’s hospitals and health systems.

The AHA recently released a report detailing the magnitude of the financial pressures hospitals and health systems are facing. The AHA estimated a total four-month financial impact of $202.6 billion, or an average of $50.7 billion per month (AHA, 2020). Prior to the pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office had already predicted that between 40% - 50% of hospitals could have negative margins by 2025. (AHA, 2020).

A Survey of Acute Care Hospital Leaders

Against this harrowing backdrop, HealthStream conducted a survey of acute care healthcare leaders in May of 2020. We had heard a great deal about the heroism of front-line staff and their efforts to care for patients, even though they lacked adequate protective equipment and medical supplies such as ventilators. We wanted to hear more of the story from the managers and executives who were in charge behind the scenes. What are they worried about and what are their priorities as they continue to navigate their teams through this pandemic?

This blog post is the first excerpt from “Hospital Leaders Say Covid-19 Is Worst Health Crisis of Their Career,” an article by Robin L. Rose, MBA, Vice President, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream.  Future posts will discuss survey results about the impact of COVID-19, organizational confidence, training, adequate equipment, priorities, and unmet needs during the pandemic.

To support caregivers and healthcare organizations as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, HealthStream is offering a collection of carefully curated courses to all customers for free. Likewise, Using HealthStream’s Channels platform for video learning, we have a created a free-access COVID19 Channel in response to the COVID19 pandemic, specifically to support healthcare workers and their families. It contains a collection of curated videos provided by HealthStream and HealthStream’s content partners from several trusted sources on YouTube, such as the CDC and Mayo Clinic.

PLEASE NOTE: The information in the article excerpted here was considered current at the time of its publishing. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-evolving disaster due to new findings, data, and availability of resources. Please refer to the CDC website for the latest detailed information when you need it.