Three Big Changes

April 27, 2020

Prognosticators offer narratives of what the post-pandemic world will look like, and we see leaders invoke Rahm Emanuel (or was it Winston Churchill?) in their expressions of how they will “Gretzky” this.

Here’s my take. None of this is particularly prescient, but I’ve been asked a few times what I think comes next. My real answer? I don’t know. Some guesses below – all brought to you by the letter p.

Place – where things will happen will never be the same. The assumptions we have made about where things need to happen will evaporate, as many of them already have.
Where do we see a physician? I can vividly remember telling a group of medical students as recently as three years ago that they would practice virtually. They disagreed, parroting what they had been told by their mentors: this “video medicine” thing would never work. “The patients need to come to the office.” What have we learned from the pandemic? At least 40% of the time, a video conversation is just fine.
Where does learning happen? E-learning has been around long enough that we know not to call it e-learning. It’s education. Education happens when people test hypotheses together, make commitments, finish projects. Learning stuff isn’t education. We know that much! Non Satis Scire. If you’ve not listened to this episode of Hidden Brain, please do so. We’ll wait for you here.
Where does business happen? Sign a document. Have a meeting. Meet with the Board of Directors. Hire an employee. Notarize a document. Get married.
Poverty – we have seen only the tip of this growing iceberg. The economy won’t recover right away, and we know that despite the science that SARS-CoV-2 infects all humans equally, we also have learned that COVID-19 harms the underserved much more than it does others. Is the pandemic going to (finally) cause us all to screen for and make the necessary investments to address social determinants of health? I sure hope so.
People – “social distancing” is in fact a misnomer. We’re physically distancing. Social connections can, should and must continue to be close. Vivik Murty’s new book teaches us that we need each other.
We need connections, we need to listen, to love, and learn from each other. We needn’t be in the same room for this to happen.
My uncle turned 85 last month and our extended family all gathered for the affair – from California, New York, and Austria. This wouldn’t have happened before: those of us who weren’t present would have “missed” the party.
Video conference meetings @ work are vastly better than conference calls. Now that there is an expectation that we see each other, the fidelity of conversations is better. Indeed, in many cases, I’d argue that it’s better than a big meeting room with people 18 feet apart. We can see each others’ faces. The nuances of reactions / responses are not lost.
And .. of course .. purpose. But that’s not new.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Reider MD, FAAFP
CEO Alliance for Better Health

I am here because I want the world to be more healthy. I have worked for decades to improve the health of our communities through the innovative use of technology, and the promotion of benevolence in business. I am currently CEO of Alliance for Better Health, a New York DSRIP care transformation initiative, Chief Health Officer of Health Coda, and co-founder of RS Partners, a health IT consulting and investing firm.

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