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A pandemic in the internet age: The catalyst for lasting healthcare transformation?


Nodar Janas, M.D. Much has changed since the 1918 flu pandemic, when fewer than 35% of US households were connected by telephones. We have since evolved to be continuously connected, and our medical knowledge and abilities have grown to cure more often than palliate. Yet the mechanism of healthcare delivery — a physician examining a patient in an office or bedside — had remained relatively static 100 years later.

Such inertia was disrupted by the arrival of COVID-19, with telemedicine becoming a household concept seemingly overnight to provide safer, socially-distanced care. Virtual visits have ballooned from 9% of patient interaction pre-pandemic to 51% at their peak.

Skilled nursing facilities, hit particularly hard by the pandemic, present an opportunity to create novel virtual care platforms that can not only alter workflows, but actually improve outcomes. Under normal circumstances, SNF patients face challenges accessing specialty care, with infrequent appointments and a significant transportation burden. Further, this population is typically high-risk with multiple comorbidities and post-hospitalization, representing a need for high-touch, yet scalable, care.

Heartbeat Health, a digital clinical care company specializing in cardiovascular care, has shown promising outcomes through high-touch, low-cost virtual care in the LTC setting. In 2019, Heartbeat Health began providing overnight […]

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