Week 30 Newsletter

10/28-11/03 Updates

Surge Capacity Strategies

Regional health workforce shortages are being exacerbated by recent spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Surge Capacity Strategies

(11/02/20) Wisconsin Hospitals Scramble to Fill Staffing Void Amid COVID-19 Surge: 5 Things to Know
An update from Becker’s Hospital Review on the surges in cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 and staffing shortages experienced in Wisconsin, as well as the attempts to attract new workers with sign-on bonuses and redeploy workers from less impacted services.

(10/31/20) Wisconsin Coronavirus: Hospitals Seek More Staff Amid COVID-19 Surge
This article covers recent struggles to meet the demands of staffing shortages in Wisconsin as the state faces surges in hospitalizations for COVID-19. Hospitals are resorting to redeploying employees from non-essential services or less impacted areas, as well as high pay for temporary and traveling health care workers.

(10/29/20) ‘Disaster in Warp Speed’: COVID-19 Outbreaks Ramp Up As Wisconsin Hits Record Cases, Deaths + Hospitalizations in Same Day — 5 COVID-19 Updates
This update from Becker’s Hospital Review discusses some of the current issues in COVID-19 relating to the health workforce and current surges in COVID-19. Several states are seeing record levels of infection and intensive care unit capacity issues and hospitalizations are on the rise across the United States.

(10/26/20) COVID Spikes Exacerbate Health Worker Shortages in Rocky Mountains, Great Plains
Surges in cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are exposing significant issues with health worker shortages in the Rocky Mountain and Midwestern areas of the United States. These clinics typically run on limited staff to save on costs in a non-pandemic environment, causing issues when staff contract COVID-19 or have to quarantine for 14 days.

Policies and Guidelines

Health care deemed “non-essential” may have long-term negative impacts on non-COVID-19 patients. 

Policies and Guidelines

(10/27/20) COVID-19 and Health Disparities: Insights From Key Informant Interviews
Another addition to the Health Affairs Blog series, “Higher Health Care Value Post COVID-19.” In this blog post, the authors discuss the results of key informant interviews about health disparities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how that impacts value in health care delivery.

(10/27/20) The COVID-19 Pandemic Can Help Us Understand Low-Value Health Care
Delivering health care with a higher risk of harm compared to benefit can be a result of overuse of health care. Care like this can be low value and wasteful compared to care which provides proportional benefit to its cost. This blog post helps identify low value care in the context of COVID-19, and encourages further evaluation of the role of low value care before, during, and after the pandemic.

(10/23/20) Spillover Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic Could Drive Long-Term Health Consequences for Non-COVID-19 Patients
With priority for treatment and procedures going to COVID-19 patients and related services, many non-COVID-19 patients are choosing to delay treatments or may not have treatment available to them. This potentially leaves negative long-term consequences for children, patients with chronic conditions, and patients at risk for cancer, among others.


Health insurers are rolling back coverage for telehealth procedures, even as telehealth services remain in high demand. 

Based on current utilization, telehealth is expected to remain a mainstay in health care delivery beyond the pandemic. Ensuring better access to telehealth for rural patients will require significant efforts to expand broadband connectivity.

 The Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is seen as a model to improve access to and quality of telehealth services.


(10/28/20) Health Insurers Are Starting to Roll Back Coverage for Telehealth – Even Though Demand Is Way Up Due to COVID-19
The adoption of telehealth rapidly following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to significant increases in utilization with no end to the demand in sight. However, as the demand remains high, health insurers are reconsidering what services will be reimbursed over telehealth.

(10/28/20) Too Many Rural Americans Are Living in the Digital Dark. The Problem Demands A New Deal Solution
This blog post from Health Affairs highlights the problems rural Americans face in accessing telehealth services, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid expansion of telehealth services met the challenges of limited broadband connectivity, and expanding this connectivity could help both patients gain access to care and hospitals in rural locations increase revenue.

(10/27/20) Predicting the Future Role of Telemedicine
Given the massive increase in the use of telehealth during the pandemic, there are expectations that it will become a standard feature of health care delivery. This article makes some predictions about the future of telehealth, including predictions that patients will seek out better telehealth delivery services and expect increased access to specialists.

(10/27/20) Report Notes CMS Program’s Success With Telehealth for Senior Care
This article highlights a new report on the PACE program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which has found success in funding telehealth services in 31 states for both patients on Medicare and Medicaid. The program may be a model of other programs to effectively improve telehealth service delivery.

Health Workforce Safety

State mandates for stockpiles of personal protective equipment are adversely impacting some nursing homes and small clinics.

Health Workforce Safety

(10/30/20) State Mask Stockpiling Orders Are Hurting Nursing Homes, Small Clinics
This article, jointly published by NBC News and Kaiser Health News, describes the difficulties experienced by nursing homes, small physician offices, and rural health clinics to acquire supplies of personal protective equipment. While states are mandating stockpiles, wealthier clinics can place larger orders, disincentivizing manufacturers of personal protective equipment from taking small orders.