It’s been seven weeks since I last put any thoughts to paper in this space. My last item (“Killing Healthcare”) about the financial crisis facing hospitals and medical groups remains unfortunately in the continuing Covid-19 era still relevant. It’s been a depressing time. I really wish I could do something from here on the beach for the great people working in these organizations.
As if to confirm the ongoing crisis, a specialist doctor I know contacted me several weeks ago for advice. He had to close his office per state direction during the first three months of Covid and it devastated his practice financially. A solo practitioner not part of a larger healthcare entity, he was seeking possible salvation by exploring the possibility of giving up his independence. I did what I could to open some doors for him.
Something has changed, however, during the past seven weeks. The use of digital technology has allowed changes to occur in business models including in healthcare.
One modest example—as soon as the ban on visiting physician offices was lifted my primary care doctor’s office reminded me that I was now a little overdue for my annual physical, something I prefer to avoid but always get snared. I dutifully went to my scheduled appointment in an office newly configured and awash in hand sanitizers. I felt a little like Typhoid Mary. I surprised (disappointed?) my doctor by being in good shape for the shape I was in. He ordered some blood tests and said his nurse practitioner would contact me for a video conference about the results.
Video conference? That was new and a week later she and I were viewing each other as we discussed my results. She did seem disappointed that all my lab values were normal, something she says she seldom sees. I felt bad for her. She did get me on my Mountain Dew consumption. I felt good for her.
Video and digital technology seems to be the wave of the future and it is working. My gym is still closed but in the interval I threw away ten years of accumulated trash in the smaller of our two garages and installed a NordicTrack rowing machine and a very trendy Peloton bike which has a somewhat frightening cult following. I now have a nifty home gym. I did promise my wife she can use the rest of the garage to store her vast collection of Christmas decorations but I am hoping she forgets.
Each piece of my home gym equipment has a video component with live and on demand classes. They are fun and demanding and not every instructor is in his or her twenties. Each time I take a class I produce a variety of metrics which are stored for me to review. I can now confirm digitally that I am out of shape which my family has been confirming visually for years.
In both instances, the nature of my interaction has been changed, probably forever. Doctor visits will be changed even when Covid-19 is no longer in the forefront of our minds.
Similarly, I am not sure I will ever need to step into a gym again now that I have a high tech home gym and am a Peloton cult member. My username is “garycal” and sadly I am a member of the Peloton over 60 group. High five me digitally if you see me on the leaderboard (way down on the leaderboard).
So perhaps in this dismal time there is hope and something good will come from the forced changes we have all endured. I believe that to be so. In the meantime I will end this item as I need a Mountain Dew.