Pandemics historically tend to change society and COVID-19 has been no exception, said Gerard Clancy, professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine and senior associate dean for external affairs at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in his keynote address: “The Future of Post Pandemic Health Care” at the CBJ’s 2022 Health Care Summit held […]
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 26 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
Pandemics historically tend to change society and COVID-19 has been no exception, said Gerard Clancy, professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine and senior associate dean for external affairs at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in his keynote address: “The Future of Post Pandemic Health Care” at the CBJ’s 2022 Health Care Summit held Feb. 11 in Coralville.
“Pandemics oftentimes accelerate change that’s already been underway in this society,” he said. “What’s going to happen post-pandemic was happening already, the trends were there, but then the pandemic just made it go much faster.”
For example, health disparities have worsened over the past two years, and physician and nurse burnout also intensified.
But not everything has been negative, he said, pointing to the rapid advancement of vaccines, expansion of telemedicine and remote working to add to the quality of life.
The Great Resignation, what could also be called the Great Negotiation or the Great Upgrade, has hit the health care industry especially hard, Dr. Clancy said.
“We have health care workers with great talent that are saying, ‘I’ve had enough. For my own health I have to do something different,’” he said, adding that physician burnout has increased from about 39% before the pandemic to about 61% now.
The increase in incidents resulting from mental health issues, addiction or other self-destructive behaviors has also put an enormous strain on the health care system, he said.
“The demand on health care beyond COVID has actually increased significantly because of self-destructive behaviors,” he said. “In 2020, people drove a lot less, but we had an increase in single-vehicle, high-speed motor vehicle accidents. We have had an increase in gun sales. We have an increase in murders in big cities. We have an increase in assaults on airplanes, we’ve had an increase in assaults on health care workers as well. These are all things that land on health care as far as us needing to take care of them.”
Celebrate the wins
The increase in telemedicine is one of the wins throughout the pandemic, Dr. Clancy said, noting that there were 700 telemedicine visits at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics the first three months of 2020. Over the next nine months, after the pandemic spread in March, there were 196,000 telemedicine visits.
“Leading CEOs in health care across the country believe in the next five years virtual care will be half of what we do,” he said. “Virtual care will be the starting point of how we plan for things rather than secondary.”
Another win is the flexibility that remote and hybrid work have given people across the country, even creating “Zoom towns” where remote workers decide to live based on the community rather than the location of their job.
“We’ve been able to do remote work and have people move out of expensive cities and actually have a much better quality of life,” he said. “People on the move are looking for a great package for where they do their Zoom town work, where there is recreation and a downtown core and culture and activities and top-notch health care.”
Going into its third year, the pandemic continues to take its toll on society, he said, but is turning the corner.
“I’ve never been prouder to be in health care and work with who I’m working with across Iowa,” he said. “I think the worst is over. We are past the peak and we’re going to be in a better place as time goes on.”