Recently, OBG Management convened an expert panel of clinicians and thought leaders to discuss the changes needed in health care delivery—and in health care policy—that have risen to the forefront of consciousness as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Here is that stimulating exchange moderated by Editorial Board member Dr. Barbara Levy.
Barbara Levy, MD: The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to consider how we would recraft the delivery of health care for women if we could. My goal for this discussion is to talk about that and see if we can incentivize people to make changes.
Cindy, what are women looking for in health care that they are not getting now?
What women want in health care
Cynthia A. Pearson: Women, like men, want a sense of assurance that health care can be provided in a safe way, and that can’t be given completely right now.
Aside from that, women want a personal connection, ideally with the same provider. Many women are embracing telehealth, which came about because of this disruptive time, and that has potential that we can possibly mobilize around. One thing women don’t always find is consistency and contact, and they would like that.
Scott D. Hayworth, MD: Women want to be listened to, and they want their doctors to take a holistic and individualized approach to their care. In-person visits are the ideal setting for this, but during the pandemic we have had to adapt to new modalities for delivering care: government regulations restricting services, and the necessity to limit the flow of patients into offices, has meant that we have had to rely on remote visits. CareMount Medical has been in the forefront of telehealth with our “Virtual Visit” technology, so we were well prepared, and our patients have embraced this truly vital option. We’ve ramped up capabilities significantly to deal with the surge in volume.
While our practice has been able to provide consistent and convenient access to care, this isn’t the case in all areas of the country. Even before the pandemic, the cost of malpractice insurance has led to shortages of ObGyns; this deficit has been compounded by the closing of hospitals due to restrictions on services imposed to try to stem the spread of COVID-19. The affordability of care has also been jeopardized by job losses and therefore of employer-provided insurance, following months of lockdowns.
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