Week 26 Newsletter

9/30-10/06 Updates

Surge Capacity Strategies

Utilizing safety-net providers and population health measures may be key to assisting the most vulnerable populations at risk for COVID-19, as well as helping prevent future health emergencies.

Primary care clinicians report more declines in  mental and physical health of their patients than they did prior to the pandemic.

Testing and vaccination are key to moving on from the pandemic, but it is still unclear who should be prioritized and how distribution of vaccines will play out.

Surge Capacity Strategies

(10/05/20) Beyond Survival to Transformation: Investing in Safety-Net Innovation to Address the Impacts of COVID-19
Safety-net health systems, hospitals, and clinics act as a point of contact for those who are most vulnerable: the uninsured, underinsured, and those on public insurance plans such as Medicaid and Medicare. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing further strain on these systems, innovation and investment are key to improve and sustain the essential services safety-net facilities provide. 

(09/30/20) The Essential Role of Population Health During and Beyond COVID-19
This research article covers the ways in which health care delivery has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues with the fee-for-service payment model, demographic disparities in health care, and rapid expansion of telehealth technologies are all key points outlined.

(09/28/20) Health on Wheels: Tricked-Out RVs Deliver Addiction Treatment to Rural Communities
With clinics closing and limiting services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, addiction treatment providers are finding innovative ways to continue to deliver services to rural communities. Utilizing custom mobile addiction treatment clinics and telehealth technology, these services can continue for those most in need. 

(10/05/20) New Primary Care Survey Results Show Patients’ Physical and Mental Health Declining
A new survey released by the Primary Care Collaborative has found that primary care clinicians are reporting physical and mental health declines in their patients. These clinicians are noticing these significant declines in health relating to the 7 months since the pandemic began.

(10/01/20) Can the U.S. Use its Growing Supply of Rapid Tests to Stop the Virus?
With increasing availability of faster, less expensive COVID-19 tests, there are hopes that the United States can get better control of infections and prevent outbreaks. This story from NPR covers how rapid tests could make a difference in fighting surges of COVID-19 infection. 

(09/25/20) Pharmacies Are Bracing for a Surge in Demand for Flu Shots Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
As seasonal influenza cases are expected to begin rising soon, pharmacies across the United States are preparing for large surges in demand for vaccines, leading to larger quantities being stockpiled compared to usual.

(09/24/20) Who Gets Coronavirus Vaccine First? Maybe Not All Front-line Healthcare Workers, HHS Committee Told
This article from Beckers Hospital Review covers the National Vaccine Advisory Committee’s recent panel, where it was announced that distribution of vaccines to front-line health care workers may not be the most ethical option. As vaccine quantity will be limited, other high-risk populations may need to be given priority.

Policies and Guidelines

Changes as a result of the pandemic have created opportunities for a better health care system. Scribes are being utilized to record patient information so that physicians can provide more comprehensive care.

Nurses are being encouraged to act as advocates for health equity in response to issues seen throughout the pandemic.

Policies and Guidelines

(10/02/20) Higher Health Care Value Post COVID-19
Health Affairs has assembled a group of experts to discuss some of the light in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically relating to the ways in which value can be increased from the changes forced by the pandemic.

(10/01/20) To Free Doctors From Computers, Far-Flung Scribes Are Now Taking Notes for Them
As COVID-19 upended traditional medical visits, telehealth and other remote services saw drastically increased utilization. This includes remote scribing, where scribes take medical notes for health care providers from a remote location, and add them to the patient’s electronic health record, without risking COVID-19 exposure.

(09/30/20) Health Equity and the Future of Nursing, Post-COVID-19
This blog post featured in Health Affairs discusses the important roles nurses can take to advocate for important changes to health care based on what has been learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses are among the most trust health care providers and can use this position to advocate for reforms supporting increased health equity.


A new study finds that patients who have  virtual visits with their providers spend as much time with them as patients who have in-person visits.

While many physicians have embraced telehealth, there are still some providers who are reluctant to provide  telehealth services.

Some measures taken to advance telehealth use early in the pandemic are starting to phase out.


(10/05/20) Telehealth Patients Still Have Quality Doctor Time
This article covers the findings of a new study on surgical follow-ups conducted via telehealth technology. The study found that while patients spent more time at appointments in-person, this included checking in and time spent in the waiting room, and ultimately both telehealth and in-person appointments spent approximately 8 minutes discussing with their surgeon.

(09/30/20) Telehealth is Here to Stay. Are the Providers Who Refuse to Embrace it?
An article highlighting some of the reasons telehealth was slow to adopt prior to the pandemic, and which providers may be resistant to adoption even after the regulatory flexibility and increases in popularity.

(09/29/20) As Insurers Move This Week to Stop Waiving Telehealth Copays, Patients May Have to Pay More for Virtual Care
Insurers are preparing for and in some cases already enacting changes to policy to add or increase copays for telehealth visits. This article covers the expected changes and how virtual care may cost more for patients.

State Workforce Strategies

While California began the year with ambitious health reform plans, the pandemic led to some alternative first-in-the-nation reforms to try and control the surge and keep the health workforce safe.

Major insurers in Texas have agreed to continue payment parity for telehealth visits.

State Workforce Strategies

(10/01/20) New Laws Keep Pandemic-Weary California at Forefront of Health Policy Innovation
This article from Kaiser Health News reviews how the pandemic changed plans California had for wide-scale reform in their health policy, instead leading in a new direction with many first-in-the-nation health reforms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

(09/25/20) Governor Abbott Announces Agreement With Health Insurers to Continue Payment Parity for Telehealth
An article covering Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement that major insurers in Texas have agreed to continue reimbursing for virtual care at the same rate as in person care, a change that was enacted to help maintain capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.