Milwaukee healthcare CEOs say some COVID-19 changes are here to stay

Milwaukee healthcare CEOs say some COVID-19 changes are here to stay

Increased virtual visits, more care at home and drive-thru testing are among the healthcare changes that could live past the COVID-19 pandemic, Milwaukee healthcare CEOs said Thursday.

“The new normal isn’t going to be the old normal,” Medical College of Wisconsin CEO Dr. John Raymond said during a webinar hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal. “All of us are going to try to learn lessons from what we’ve had to do in this emergency situation that might make us better, leaner, more efficient organizations as we go forward.”

Among the most significant shifts is an escalation of telehealth.

Advocate Aurora Health CEO Jim Skogsbergh said they’ve conducted 70,000 virtual visits since the pandemic began.

“This new platform of virtual and digital will never go back,” he said.

Froedtert Health CEO Cathy Jacobson echoed the sentiment.

“I think we just jump started ourselves by three years, quite frankly,” she said.

Children’s Wisconsin CEO Peggy Troy and Ascension Wisconsin Ministry Market Executive Bernie Sherry said more care will be delivered outside hospitals.

“With the technologies and remote patient monitoring we will see a greater evolution of healthcare in the home,” Sherry said. “Not only virtual access, but technology innovations that will allow us to do more in the home to care for people where they live.”

Sherry added that drive-thru testing could be more prevalent, and Raymond predicts more tests will be conducted at home.
Raymond also foresees an increase in remote working for staff that is not front-line clinical workers.

“We’ve sent a lot of people home to work and they are being extremely productive. We never would have dreamed that some of those core functions could have moved off campus,” he said. “I don’t think we will come back from that.”

Jacobson said the changes will lead to a slimming down of many health systems.

“We have taken our operations down to bare bones,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons, a lot of the tough things we’ve been trying to do to cut costs. We are going to bring it up in a very different way than we’ve been running it.”

Wisconsin Health News is removing the password on all stories related to the coronavirus. For the latest developments follow us on Twitter at @wihealthnews or check out our website. For complete healthcare coverage, sign up for a free trial to our daily email newsletter. 


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