Check this out. What you will see is a Tweet from a Black resident physician who had just left a barbershop. While there, he heard other patrons warning each other not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Why? Among other reasons, the concern was expressed that included with the vaccine would be “trackers” that would let the recipient be followed. Ironically, the night before I had been having a conversation with a Cardiologist, as part of my “On Doctors’ MindsSM” project, in which he mentioned that some of his patients had expressed that same concern. As noted in this Tweet, there was a palpable irony in the fact that most if not all of the patrons had cell phones on their person that permit exactly that tracking capacity.
Bottom Line. SO. How do you get around concerns like this and get people who hold such beliefs, of color or otherwise, to get vaccinated? Hint! Talking science probably won’t work. Rather, you need to get people with “street cred” to do the reassuring. In several studies we have conducted over the years, pastors and barbers often wind up being seen as credible sources. We may need to communicate through them.
Check this out. Penned by Rada Jones, the pithy ER doctor pictured here, this is a “handy dandy guide” for how we should all go about getting through the next few months. Cold outside, COVID cases rising rapidly, virtual schooling with the kids at home and other factors frankly make a survival guide sort of necessary.
She makes 20 good basic suggestions. She recommends turning off the news. Good thinking. Wolf Blitzer’s breathless reporting of today’s death rate has gotten really old. Accept the current situation as reality. Never a bad idea. Make a plan for what happens if you get sick. Take it from one who was caught flat footed on this one, and make that plan. I didn’t, and as a result had (dis)organizational stress added to the impact of the virus itself.
Without a doubt, the most important hint she saves for last. #20.
Bottom Line. “Finally, remember that this too shall pass.”
Check this out. Download these survey results from Skipta and think about them. Huge survey sample here, with important results available for free. Why wouldn’t you give this a spin?
What you will see are important findings. Very interesting when I compare them with the results of the 10 personal conversations I am having with physicians each month in my On Doctors’ MindsSM project. (NOTE: I am doing this project pro bono. No charge to clients. Want a copy of the monthly findings, including curated video tapes of my conversations with the doctors? Send “I want in” to firstname.lastname@example.org. She will sign you up).
The biggest deal that Skipta sees HCP’s focusing on in wrestling with the future is adapting to the “new normal.” Responding to the changes which the pandemic keeps throwing at them. Yup. In my conversations with doctors every month, I am hearing them talk about the “dynamic” situation. Changes coming at them fast and furious, and in fundamental areas that they never thought would change. Who would think that patient visits would just suddenly disappear in March and April of 2020? Or just as quickly return in early Summer?
And relatedly, finances. Skipta found that to be a hot topic. I am finding the same thing. Practices applying for PPP, furloughing staff, taking 15% cuts in annual revenue, learning to operate with leaner staff and finding it to be very doable and therefore permanent. Again, who would have thought that the finances of medical practice would fundamentally change overnight?
The third big area that Skipta and I have both found to be important as doctors look to the future is patient “engagement.” How to keep patients tapped into the diagnostic and treatment processes when you are interacting with them on Zoom. I talked to two Rheumatologists on Friday that reported exactly the same thing. A lot of the substance of their specialty hinges (Sorry, pun intended) on being able to lay hands on a patient’s joints. No can do on Zoom. Patients also report that they are missing the social aspect of going to the doctor when they are relegated to Telemedicine.
Bottom Line. Use huge surveys or informal conversations as your basis for predicting the future, and you will find the same thing. HCP’s underlying values remain the same, but lots of logistics are changing to constitute the new normal.
The safest way to predict the future? Survey research to learn the numbers and in-depth conversations to learn the backstory.
Check this out. What you will see are survey results drawn from a study of physicians’ perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on physician practices and their patients, physician wellbeing and the healthcare system in general. Lots of important information here, clearly presented in an infographic format for ease of comprehension of the findings drawn from over 3,000 respondents.
Important findings. Like 8% of physicians have closed their practices as the result of the pandemic. Wow!
72% of doctors have experienced a significant reduction in income caused by COVID. Yikes!
43% of doctors have had to reduce staff.
Perhaps the most profound finding was that 72% of doctors predicted long term, negative impact from the pandemic on healthcare in their communities as the result of patients putting off necessary visits.
AND. While the reliance on Telemedicine in practices has increased significantly, doctors are predicting that it will not be a major force in their futures unless reimbursement rates for these services increase significantly.
Bottom Line. Overall, what the reader will see in the results of this survey is that the pandemic’s effects were both broad and deep. Although the researchers have presented a fairly exhaustive list of COVID’s impacts, as usual I am left scratching my chin. Scratching my chin trying to figure out what COVID Consequences we have failed to figure out yet.
We have all seen the isolated pieces of information about COVID-19 and mortality. Being over 65 increases your risk of dying from the disease. So does having pre-existing conditions like hypertension (now clarified to refer only to patients whose hypertension is not controlled by medication), your race, where you live, etc. Fascinating stuff. BUT. How does it all fit together to determine the one number, the only number, that we are all interested in. How likely am I to die if I test positive for COVID?
Check this out. What you will see is an online calculator specifically designed to answer this one life or death question.
Bottom Line. Interesting. Not sure what one does with the resulting information. Determine how assiduous you are going to be in social distancing? Decide whether it is time to (re)write your will?
Try out this calculator if you have the nerve! And think about the implications!!!
An interesting day on the Sunday before Christmas, a.k.a. the fourth Sunday in Advent.
10:30 a.m. Mass at Saint Francis on Hilton Head Island found a congregation about 20% of its usual size. Pews carefully marked with red tape to make social distancing a no brainer. Big signs on the doors clearly explaining that masks are not chin decorations. They need to cover the mouth AND nose. If you want to wear a face shield, fine. But you have to wear a mask too. Etc. Virtually everybody present was complying with the letter of the law. Except for a “nice” family sitting in the rear of the church on the right side. Three people. None of them wearing masks as they sat there. I fumed!!! How could people, in that setting of all places, be so ignorant of caring about their fellow parishioners? About their fellow human beings???
And then I came home and read this. Which is sadder? The details this piece contains the way this front line worker’s life was snuffed out, slowly and agonizingly, by the virus? Or the fact that he is one of 7,000 health care workers internationally who have met this fate?
Here’s a hint. You DON’T want to be Tony Fauci in 2020. As you have seen in multiple newscasts, Dr. Fauci must now travel with his own security detail due to multiple, credible death threats. Sure, there is the light-hearted moment, like the Fauci Christmas ornament pictured above. Unfortunately, such fluff is rather handily overshadowed by stories like this one, where we see good old level headed Steve Bannon proffering that Fauci’s head should be posted on a stake at the White House as a “warning” to other bureaucrats who might be tempted to interfere with the lives of Americans who “just want to be free.”
Bottom Line. Really??? There is a genuine underlying sickness in a society that would make such threats toward a man who has worked 24/7 over the course of 2020 to get the physical health of America back on line.
Sure, the sickness is obvious. But the cure? Not so much!
We see it every night on the National News. HCP’s who are exhausted from months of dealing with unrelenting COVID cases. Doctors leaning on walls, sleeping in doorways. And begging us to stop the madness. Wear masks, wash hands, stay out of crowded places.
And yes, here is another one. This one with a twist. The Anesthesiologist, pictured above, telling her Manitoban neighbors that their medical system is about to drown under the load of Covid cases. Canada for God’s sake. Beds and caregivers both in grave shortage. She feels that she must reach out to counter the messages of those who still believe that the pandemic is a hoax, that social hygiene isn’t important, etc. BUT. Even as she cries out, she knows that her words will fall on deaf ears.
Bottom Line. All of this leads me to a question. How did we, Canadians and Americans alike, get into this circumstance? Is this cynicism a new phenomenon, or have we always been closet jerks and it just took a pandemic to make this fact manifest?
AND. What next? More begging and pleading to get people to take the vaccine? I am thinking that there has got to be a better way. Part of me says that we have all now gotten to be so immune to begging and pleading that we need an entirely different approach. Something more upbeat. Celebrity endorsement?
No URL Today. Nope. I pride myself on never doing stuff like this, but here goes. Self-revelation.
From the beginning of the pandemic last winter, I have been scared silly of contracting Covid. Nothing that I was seeing on TV looked like fun. I was extremely careful about where I went and what I did. Dining on the porch at the Country Club. Sitting in the last pew in Church so no one could breathe on me.
But a week ago, it got me. 35 lousy cases discovered on Saturday in my SC County. Out of hundreds of thousands of people. And my wife and I joined the list of the infected. Testing validated our self-diagnosis.
Cough, headache, fever, confusion, weakness, myalgia. Luckily none of that gasping for air stuff you see on TV. Would it get worse? Better? Luckily a week later, both Casey and I have improved substantially. Great relief. DHEC called today. By next weekend, we will be off the infectious list. Better yet, they told us we will get at least 90-120 days of immunity out of this, carrying us into the time of the vaccine. DHEC tells us that no one in SC has gotten infected twice. Smile!
Bottom Line. How did we get Covid? Dunno! What was the experience like? Not great, not nearly as bad as my paranoid mind anticipated.
What should your takeaway be from this? Be careful but be confident. This too shall pass!
Check this out. What you will see is yet another line item to put under the heading of “telemedicine.” This is rather straightforward. In the middle of a pandemic, about the last thing a surgeon wants in his OR is a salesperson for a device company, even though the representative’s expertise in using the device might still be needed. Bingo! Perfect application for a teleconferencing platform.
Bottom Line. AND. As the page to which I have referred you points out — infection avoidance is not the only benefit here. As is usually the case with telemedicine applications, efficiency (this time for the salesperson) is greatly enhanced by relying on virtual rather than in-person visits.
Amazing that it took a pandemic to hasten this transition along!