The University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School presented its latest Business of Health Care Conference on April 1, 2022. The event was held at Watsco Center and streamed live. There were over 1000 attendees combined in the live and livestream audiences. The topic this year was Technology, Access and the New Normal. A prominent group of panelists was convened to address obstacles to accessible, equitable medical care created by the pandemic. The panelists and speakers also examined the unprecedented opportunities to expand the use of telehealth and other interactive and transformative technologies resulting from the COVID crisis.
After a welcome speech delivered by Julio Frenk, MD, President, University of Miami and opening remarks offered by John A. Quelch, Dean, Miami Herbert Business School and Steven G. Ullmann, Professor and Director, Center for Health Management and Policy, Miami Herbert Business School, the first panel discussion was presented.
Entitled Technology and Access – the Impact on Patient and Provider, this panel discussion featured Rachel Villanueva, MD, President, National Medical Association, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Matthew D. Eyles, President and Chief Executive Officer, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Michelle Hood, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, American Hospital Association, Ernest Grant, President, American Nurses Association, and Joseph Fifer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Moderator Patrick Geraghty, President and Chief Executive Officer GuideWell and Florida Blue, expanded on the subject of the telehealth explosion brought on by the pandemic and invited panelists to examine this event and talk about the pros and the cons. He also noted that telehealth utilization is down markedly from its mid-pandemic high.
Dr. Villanueva was the first panelist to comment. She noted that the lived experience of the patient is different than the lived experience of the provider. She pointed out that broadband access is still limited in underserved communities and a significant percentage of the underserved lack the digital skills to successfully navigate web-based platforms and apps. Mr. Eyles participated next and suggested that telehealth was a “lifeline during the pandemic,” while also stating that both audio and video telehealth engagements have proven to be beneficial. Meanwhile, he warned that several telehealth regulatory flexibilities are scheduled to sunset unless Congress acts. Michelle Hood spoke next and noted that hospital engagement is focused on rural health and population health issues. “Telehealth offers significant opportunities to serve rural populations,” she added.
Finally, Ernest Grant and Joseph Fifer weighed in. Mr. Grant was adamant that telehealth was an asset for all, including patients, doctors, nurses, administrators, social workers, case managers etc. “Amazing” is Mr. Fifer’s assessment of the telehealth phenomena while also cautioning that payment mechanisms by payers are currently fluid and that provider CFOs are understandably concerned.
In terms of lives lost, human suffering and money spent, the cost of the pandemic was profound. And the losses continue as the world settles into a new normal. While telemedicine and other health technologies were crucial to getting us through the crisis, in the short term, it appears that health disparities worsened during the pandemic. The panelists participating in this discussion offered some hope that lessons learned, and progress made because of the crisis will strengthen our health systems, resulting in better, more equitable care going forward.
View the conference in its entirety HERE>>