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  • Ihuoma Emenuga

Beauty for Ashes…



Five years ago, as the Medical Director for the City of Baltimore’s School Health Program, our team set up the first ‘School Telehealth’ program in the city. It took several months of investigation – probing what payors would reimburse, finding a partner, identifying a vendor – the list goes on and on. It was a project to which I dedicated most of my workday. Every. Single. Day. You would think we were trying to send a man to the moon!


Five years later we are hit by a global pandemic and healthcare, as we know it, is upended with many healthcare services coming to a screeching halt.


And then comes along telehealth to save the day!


Like many other health care organizations, my employer mustered together an all-hands-on-deck approach and developed a telehealth platform that could sync with our EMR. In a few unbelievably short weeks, we were back in business. (Kudos to ‘The Matts’ and the IT team!). There were inevitable bumps and potholes along the way, and the learning curve was steep for many of the patients we serve. One year later, we can look back, pat ourselves on the back, and be proud of what we achieved.


But then, just as we are congratulating ourselves on making such strides, here comes Amazon! By combining Telehealth with the Mobile Care Nurse program, Amazon has created yet another category of care which was considered nearly impossible. They pushed the boundaries on what could be done, and on what patients could reasonably expect.


The world is a strange place – the person who is eloquently explaining why something is impossible is often interrupted by the person who is already doing it.


The past year has been horrendous, to put it mildly. We have experienced loss on a monumental scale, and many have paid the ultimate price for others to survive. Through it all, we have been forced to seek innovative ways to improve how care is delivered.


Henry Ford said if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have simply said “a faster horse”. Most patients (and providers, I might add) had resigned themselves to healthcare’s business as usual, until the pandemic opened our creative genius. And now, even in an industry which is famous for lagging behind other industries when it comes to innovation, we can imagine a lot more and serve our patients a lot better.


Healthcare 2.0 starts now.


So, what does this mean? It means healthcare that works for everyone – the healthcare entity, the patients, and the providers. It means providing care in a way that makes win-win possible on both sides of the patient-provider relationship. It means being open to the possibility of maximizing productivity while preserving the patient experience and provider satisfaction. Because we now know that these are not mutually exclusive.


We have an opportunity to build the healthcare of the future: how would you imagine Healthcare 2.0…?


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