CMO Vital Views
Expert insights for chief medical officers and clinical leaders on the challenges, approaches and trends shaping health care
Out of every dire challenge or crisis should emerge opportunities for us to sharpen ourselves as clinicians and as organizations to better meet our patients and service their needs as consumers across this country. So the importance of the chief medical officer role as the voice of science and as resolve in leadership is more important than ever.
We saw firsthand during this pandemic how quickly the science and knowledge about this vicious virus was changing. Technology played a critical role for us to deliver care, whether it was in brick and mortar examination rooms or meeting the patients at their home where they were. A great example of this was the rapid acceleration availability and deployment of tele and virtual capabilities. I would also add the importance of connectivity and integration of care teams.
What has not changed is our focus on empathetic, compassionate, and holistic medical care. Leaders can take advantage of this disruption by being honest, self-reflective, and transparent around clinical, operational, and strategic lessons learned within their organizations.
The evidence I see coming out of this pandemic on the other side of radical change in our value chain is really in three large buckets. First and foremost is the physical armor required to properly protect not only our clinical workforce on the front lines, but the patients they serve. What I mean by that is PPE. The redeployment of human capital and staff across different parts of health systems. This courage, and this raising of the hand, really meant a lot for us as an organization, or reiterated the importance of our people and our culture, going where it was needed to best serve the patients, maintain clinical operations, and be redeployed in hotspots that needed immediate focus. And I would also say technology. How we assess, how we deploy, and how we make technology most effective and efficient in the clinical care pathways is going to become extremely important.
I think some of the best ways to ensure that Chief Medical Officers are fully aligned with the needs of their consumers is to deeply understand the needs of their patients. And an emphasis on the vulnerable populations, the underserved populations, the senior populations, and the patients with multiple chronic conditions should be the ultimate focus. You must then also intertwine all other stakeholders, including health systems, the health insurance company, and many others. Team-based medicine, that is whole person medicine, drives the best outcome and allows us to lower low value and inefficient care. If you want to change something, you must be able to measure it, and understand what benchmark you're working against, whether it's clinical standards to validate performance, or patient experience in the form of NPS. Patient engagement is more important than ever. Patients are scared to utilize the health system. Patients need more information. And most importantly, they need confidence that the health system is safe, it's operating in the most effective way possible.
Some innovative ways that CMOs can address this risk is being really proactive with an emphasis on social responsibility by addressing food insecurity, housing issues, implicit bias in provider education, and really focusing on your clinical and claims data to address social determinants of care. These populations need a targeted effort in order to ensure that we're addressing all of their needs, not only around the pandemic, but that we're not losing focus of their otherwise existing healthcare needs. It doesn't only focus on their medical needs. Everything affects the patient, whether it's where they live, whether it's their unemployment, whether it's their employment status, issues happening with their family, mental health issues. So addressing all of this in a very holistic manner will lead to more equitable healthcare and ultimately will lead to enhanced patient engagement and better medical outcomes.
There have been substantial regulatory changes and impacts to our entire health system, and frankly to the nation. So it is very important for CMOs across the country to be current, and understand what those changes are, but also be the voice. Be the voice, get involved with your local and state legislators who are also looking to have dialogues and conversations with clinical and scientific experts. 30 million or more Americans lost commercial coverage during this pandemic, and that is devastating and unfortunate. We need to continue to care for these patients. There cannot be a gap or a pause in their coverage. There's also that group of patients that lost their commercial coverage and don't qualify for Medicaid. We need to also to continue to find ways to care for these Americans.
Follow the science, take care of your people, and ensure that the patient is at the epicenter of every decision that your health system makes. Value is a culture and mindset that we should never compromise on. Leadership, especially clinical, is more important than ever.
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