Welcome to the Health Evolution CEO Reading List. Chief executives of providers, payers and life sciences organizations can look to this list for articles and resources about health care and leadership.
As this list will be updated frequently, please email suggestions to Gabriel Perna.
Where telehealth falls short. David Blumenthal, MD, President of the Commonwealth Fund, writes in Harvard Business Review that while telehealth use has surged during the pandemic, he isn’t convinced that this transformation will lead to a “whole new kind of doctor–patient relationship.” He explains that when compared to in-person visits, telehealth falls short in building trust between doctors and patients.
More financial woes for hospitals, per AHA. A new report from the American Hospital Assocation has estimated the total losses for the nation’s hospitals and health systems to be at least $323.1 billion in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. Also, Definitive Healthcare released an analysis that reveals 40% of providers are at risk of closure due to pandemic-related financial implications.
Cost of Remdesivir. The first COVID-19 drug will be sold for $3,120 per treatment course to hospitals for treatment of patients with private insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and Gilead Sciences, the drug’s manufacturer.
5 issues to focus on post COVID. Global law firm Dentons and ReviveHealth shared a list of the five post-COVID issues that provider organizations will have to focus on. Those issues are as follows:
Johns Hopkins shifting 30% of visits to telemedicine full time. Paul Rothman, MD, Dean of the Medical Faculty at Johns Hopkins University and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said at the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference this week that after the pandemic is over, 30% of visits will be done via telehealth. “Telehealth gives us the ability to reach out where we didn’t before. We are an international healthcare provider, and it grants us access to patients who didn’t want to travel,” Rothman said at the conference.
Cigna, Oscar Health team up. A pair of health insurance companies – Cigna, based in Bloomfield, CT and Oscar Health, based in New York City – are teaming up to offer small businesses “Cigna + Oscar.” This will be a health insurance product for small businesses, available in Atlanta and in the San Francisco Bay Area and across Tennessee, effective Q4 2020. The fully-insured health plans available through Cigna + Oscar include no charge, 24/7 virtual doctor visits, $3 drug co-pays and are designed to fit the budgets of small businesses. A survey commissioned by Cigna + Oscar reveals 50% of small businesses are considering or unsure about changing their health insurer heading into 2021.
Gilead makes a move in oncology. While Gilead Sciences, out of Foster City, California, is in focus these days because of its work on COVID-19, the pharma company has made a move in oncology. Gilead announced that it was acquiring a 49.9% equity interest in Pionyr Immunotherapeutics for $275 million and exclusive option to buy the rest of the company. “The agreement represents important progress as we continue to build out Gilead’s presence in immuno-oncology with innovative and complementary approaches. We look forward to seeing the programs advance with the goal of developing new therapies that will improve the treatment of cancer,” says Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead.
AHA, others speak out on end to discrimination protection. The Trump administration rolled back Obama-era regulations that prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and the termination of a pregnancy. The American Hospital Association (AHA) and American Medical Association publicly disagreed with the move. “Hospitals and health systems value every individual we have the privilege of serving, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. That is why we urged the administration to not move forward with changes to non-discrimination protections,” AHA President Rick Pollack said in a statement.
Senators ask for permanent change to telehealth expansion. Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, wrote a letter to Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, D-New York urging them to expand telehealth access permanently. The letter was signed by 30 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans.
“Congress should expand access to telehealth services on a permanent basis so that telehealth remains an option for all Medicare beneficiaries both now and after the pandemic. Doing so would assure patients that their care will not be interrupted when the pandemic ends. It would also provide certainty to health care providers that the costs to prepare for and use telehealth would be a sound long-term investment,” they write in the letter.
Providers estimating a long wait until pre-COVID revenue levels. A new survey of health systems and medical groups shines a light on how long it could take until things return to normal. More than 40% of health care systems and 36% of medical groups are forecasting it will be at least a year before revenues return to pre-COVID levels, according to a survey from the American Medical Group Association (AMGA). Nearly 23% of health care systems and 28% of medical groups said it’s still unknown when their revenues will return to normal.
“The financial risks are real, and we have heard that several groups have already run through their reserves,” AMGA President and CEO Jerry Penso, MD, said in a statement. “This pandemic has changed the expense makeup for providers, who now are funding new PPE and telehealth infrastructure costs while simultaneously dealing with significant revenue losses.”
Health Disparities are multidimensional. Data from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that COVID-19 disproportionately affects African American communities. One recent study showed that counties across the nation that are predominantly black account for over half of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and nearly 60% of deaths. Hollings Cancer Center researcher Chanita Hughes-Halbert conducted two recent health disparity studies that showed the importance of effective strategies for chronic disease prevention and management for male minority prostate cancer patients as well as male veterans who have experienced various health issues.
“COVID-19 is showing all of the ways in which racial and ethnic minorities and individuals from other medically underserved groups are disadvantaged. In addition to having health-related risk factors for COVID-19, racial minorities are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the adverse economic impact of COVID-19,” Hughes-Halbert said.
Amwell files for an IPO. Less than a month after raising almost $200 million in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual health company Amwell is about to go public, according to CNBC. With the pandemic forcing patients to get virtual care, Amwell told CNBC last month that it’s seen a 1,000% increase in visits, and closer to 3,000% to 4,000% in some places
The high cost of COVID-19. According to a report from Wakely, a health care actuarial consultant, the estimated cost of the pandemic to insurers could reach up to $546.6 billion over a two-year period. Members of private insurers out of pocket expenses could be between $2.8 billion and $48.6 billion of the costs, the study found. The rates vary because there are different potential rates of infection, estimates in the cost of treatment and a range of deferred care costs.
More health care leaders speak out on George Floyd/diversity and inclusion. A trio of health care leaders have spoken out about the issues of racial injustice and inequality surrounding George Floyd’s death. Livongo CEO Glen Tullman writes in LinkedIn about the importance of committing to actions, not just words, in the wake of these events.
“Create a healthy and open dialogue on racial injustices. Donate money, no matter the amount, to advocacy organizations or volunteer with local grass roots organizations that fight for justice and equal rights. And most importantly, do your part by exercising your right to vote. We must stand together in this opportunity,” Tullman writes.
Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence, also writes about a commitment actions on LinkedIn. He shares seven actions health care organizations can take to address the racial disparities that exist in health and health care in America. This includes mobilizing COVID-19 resources for people of color before the next wave hits, go beyond usual outreach to minority communities, advocate for primary care for all, get out the vote, promote the census, support safety net programs and accelerate diversity and inclusion programs.
Ramon Sequeira, President of Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., shared her reflections in LinkedIn . She says the company must “take immediate steps to ensure everyone has equal access to our medicines and support programs.” She also says the company needs to find ways to “hire, train and communicate more purposefully to encourage both diversity and inclusion.”
Health care CEOs speak out on George Floyd protests. CEOs are publicly commenting in regard to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police and the subsequent protests that have occurred across the country as a result. Some CEOs are addressing the larger issues at hand, while others communicated directly to their employees and the business community at large.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CNBC that “what the African American community sees in that videotape is that this African American man, who could be me or any other African American man, is being treated as less than human.” Frazier says leaders in the business community can be a “unifying force” and have the ability to create jobs and new opportunities for minorities.
Teladoc Health CEO Jason Gorevic writes on LinkedIn that these kinds of moments make him keenly aware of his responsibility as a business leader and CEO: “to foster an inclusive environment.” He says he sent a communication to employees this week reaffirming its commitment to an inclusive environment. “Emotions are rightly running high for everyone in America right now,” he adds. “Like many of our colleagues, I feel the weight of what’s upon us. In times like these, we all look for reassurance and understanding from the communities that matter most to us, including our workplace.”
Cedars-Sinai Health System CEO Tom Priselac also wrote on LinkedIn about the events in Minnesota. He says the events are a “stark reminder of the inequities that African-Americans and other people of color still face in our country.” He continues that while those who engaged in violent protests in Los Angeles should be held accountable, those acts by a small amount of people should not overshadow “the peaceful yet strong protests of thousands earlier in the day.”
Also speaking out were various medical association groups. The American Medical Association described police brutality of minorities a public health issue. AMA President, Patrice Harris, MD and Board Chair, Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, released a joint statement urging health organizations to “take up the mantle of intolerance for police brutality and racism.” The American Hospital Association said hospitals have an important role to play in the wellbeing of their communities. “As we’ve seen in the pandemic, communities of color have been disproportionately affected, both in infection rates and economic impact,” Rich Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA, said in a statement.
Telehealth: A $250 billion opportunity? McKinsey & Company released a report saying up to $250 billion of current US health care spend could potentially be virtualized. The authors note that since COVID-19, providers have rapidly scaled telehealth solutions and nearly half of U.S. consumers have used it (up from 11 percent in 2019). However, the opportunity of telehealth is not inevitable. “This shift is not inevitable. It will require new ways of working for a broad set of providers, step-change improvements in information exchange, and broadening access and integration of technology,” according to McKinsey.
Racial disparity in COVID-19 patients. A new study in Health Affairs reveals that African Americans had 2.7 times the odds of hospitalization from COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic white patients. Researchers examined 1,052 COVID-19 patients at Sutter Health, a large integrated health care system in northern California, to measure potential disparities. “African Americans continue to bear a disproportionate burden of chronic disease, with pronounced disparities in type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. There are concerns that existing racial and ethnic disparities will be exacerbated and compounded by COVID-19,” writes the study’s authors.