Health Business Blog

Health care business consultant and policy expert David E. Williams share his views

Can pro sports beat the pandemic?

 

The sudden shutdown of pro sports in March was a shock to the system that made COVID-19 real to the public at large. Wouldn’t it be nice if the restart signaled the end of the pandemic? Alas, it’s instead become a reminder of just how serious a mess we are in.

In this episode of #CareTalk, John Driscoll and I discuss

(0:12) Can any professional sport safely continue operations during the pandemic?
(1:16) The MLB’s “Fish problem”
(3:20) Can Canada do it better? (6:00)
What about the NFL? (8:43)
Where is the USA in the battle against COVID-19?

What do patients think of virtual care? Interview with Kyruus’s Dr. Erin Jospe

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Dr. Erin Jospe, Kyruus CMO

Patients have been receiving a megadose of virtual care since March. How’s it going and what will it mean long-term? Provider search and scheduling company, Kyruus asked 1000 patients for their opinions and published the findings.

How Patients Learned About Virtual Care Options
How Patients Learned About Virtual Care Options

Kyruus Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Erin Jospe and I had a chance to catch up on the report and speculate about its implications in this podcast.

Here’s what we discussed:

  • (0:15) Key findings and surprises
  • (1:54) Baby Boomers’ affinity for virtual care
  • (3:40) Paradox that Baby Boomers are big utilizers of virtual care but not so likely to switch doctors to get it
  • (6:21) Downsides and limitations of virtual care
  • (10:55) Impact of virtual care on disparities
  • (13:47) Potential to launch a virtual-first practice
  • (17:31) Why Kyruus cares about these results

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Interview conducted by healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group. Podcast production by Marina Zapesochny, social media intern.

When will COVID-19 vaccine become available?

Operation Warp Speed promises a vaccine in no time (or at least before the election). Is that a pipe dream? And when the vaccine does arrive, how well will it work? How will it be priced? Who will get it? And what will the impact be on the rest of the drug and vaccine market?

John Driscoll and I argue it out in the latest edition of #CareTalk.


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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

A few quick observations on recent news

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Not fooling anyone

I haven’t had much of a chance to write lately, but there are so many things that I want to comment on. So here are a few quick thoughts:

  1. The Peter Navarro piece in USA Today about Tony Fauci was a total joke. It reminded me of what a middle school student would have written if forced to take the Con side in a debate where Pro was obviously correct. “Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” It’s just nut. USA Today is getting serious grief for running that, as well they should. But Navarro and Trump are the ones who should really take a beating.
  2. COVID-19 is badly increasing disparities. The stock market is rising and high end homes and cars are selling fine. Private school students are being educated and getting specially designed internships. Meanwhile, lower income jobs are getting squeezed, public schools have given up, and summer jobs for teens are hard to come by.
  3. We continue to dig a deeper hole. Massachusetts and neighboring states are doing relatively well –but the South and West are in serious trouble. Eventually they will take us down with them if the fire keeps raging out of control. We can’t even agree on the lowest common denominator –wearing a mask
  4. Speaking of which, looks like Walmart and other retailers have become our new public health department. There’s no national mask policy and some states won’t impose them. So now it’s up to the retailers to step in.
  5. Looks like private companies may have to take over data collection, too as the White House bypasses the CDC for infection reporting

Ok, that’s enough for now…

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Colleges adapt porn industry policies for safe reopening

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Giving it the old college try

Top colleges are taking a page from the adult film industry’s playbook to ensure that they can reopen this fall and stay open, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud them for it.

As I wrote in early April (Let the porn industry reopen the economy):

Donald Trump, the CDC and much of the rest of the federal government have demonstrated sustained incompetence on getting testing going…

The obvious answer is to enlist the adult film industry in returning the economy to normalcy. The industry has operated a testing system successfully for years to stave off threats of infections from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

I went on to describe the PASS system that had operated successfully for a decade, with frequent testing and follow-up. I encouraged employers to do something similar.

Employers haven’t really taken this on, but one sector of the economy is not only adopting this approach but taking it to the next level. Some high-end private colleges and universities are determined to return to campus this fall. Online classes are ok but they are a very poor substitute for the in-person experience and are frankly not worth the tuition.

Unlike some of our red state governors, certain college presidents are taking a cold, hard look at what it will take to make it happen. They aren’t relying on science and public health experts, not wishful thinking. And they have come to the same conclusions that the porn kings did.

Here’s what Colby College is doing (emphasis mine). They expect to spend $10 million this year.

Colby’s testing program… will require the participation of all members of the campus community—students, faculty, and staff. Students will be tested prior to arrival with test kits provided by Colby, and all community members will be tested three times during the opening weeks of the semester. Thereafter, everyone will be tested twice per week, a rate that scientific models have demonstrated will greatly limit the spread of the virus by detecting infections in individuals prior to them becoming contagious. To put this in perspective, we expect to administer roughly 85,000 tests in the first semester alone, a number that almost equals the total number of tests administered in the entire state of Maine since the start of the pandemic.

…Test results will be returned to the individual and the College within 24 hours, allowing for any required mitigation efforts to be instituted quickly. We have leased additional housing for quarantine and isolation of students, who will be provided with a range of support services, including facilitating their coursework, attention to medical and mental health, and food delivery.

And Brandeis?

Brandeis will provide high-frequency, mandatory COVID-19 testing to all on-campus community members…All students living in campus residence halls will be tested upon their arrival to campus, and students living off-campus will be tested at a designated time before the start of the fall term. There will also be mandatory testing multiple times per month for all students, faculty, and staff who either live on campus or who come to campus several times per week, whether or not they are symptomatic. This will enable us to quickly identify and contain any instances of infection on our campus. Those coming to campus less frequently will also be tested, though not as frequently.

Testing is part of broader plans, but it is the core and let’s us know they are dead serious. Both of these schools are working with the Broad Institute for testing.

Interestingly, some other colleges are wavering on testing or throwing in the towel with a move to online only. Good luck with that.

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.