Biography: Hovanesian is a faculty member at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute and in private practice at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, California.
April 14, 2020
2 min read

BLOG: Three wishes for post-COVID-19 health care

Biography: Hovanesian is a faculty member at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute and in private practice at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, California.
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So many frustrating unknowns surround us in this health care crisis. Whether we are a doctor or a staff member, an industry employee or a researcher, at this writing we have no real idea how much our loved ones might suffer, when we will return to work and how government subsidies will help us support our families and our employees. But like those who lived through the Great Depression, we are quickly learning lessons in resilience that will color the rest of our lives. Without knowing the rest of this story, I do know what I wish for in the post-COVID-19 world:

Leaner, more efficient practices and drug/device makers and a quick economic recovery. Buoyed by patients with pent-up demand for our services combined with workforce streamlining from natural attrition, we will all perform with the bare necessities. We will work harder and longer. This summer, if we are back to work by then, will bring few vacations, but in the wake of the worst financial impact of our professional lives, practices and suppliers of drugs and devices will spring back quickly to health. And to think just a few months ago we were worried about reductions in reimbursement. Those will still be a challenge, but we have overcome so much more.

Virtual care will be here to stay. By the time this issue of Ocular Surgery News reaches mailboxes, most of our colleagues will have tried telemedicine to perform some level of service for patients. Most of us who have already tried have become quite pleased with how much good doctoring can be done, even without our diagnostic instruments. The world will know that patients deserve to see our faces and hear our reassuring voices without leaving home. Elimination of COVID-19 will not eliminate the viability of virtual care but enhance its possibilities. Smart industry players will bring us better tools that integrate better with our EHR systems, automate billing and allow solid documentation of services performed.

We will all learn the meaning of quality time. Having our schedules cleared is now giving us more time with loved ones, more time with pets, more time for exercise and more time for personal reflection. We will become closer to family and friends who are farther away. We will understand that a full schedule does not mean a full life and that we don’t need to be “the richest guy in the graveyard.” Travel will still be exciting, but so will be looking out the window, enjoying a warm drink. We will be able to laugh at adversity we can’t control and help neighbors through the difficulties that we can. We will return to work with the right priorities, a clearer sense of purpose and a kinder approach to our patients and staff, whom we will appreciate more than ever.

The outcome of many of these wishes we can’t control, but the measure of our wisdom may lie in how we use this time to shape the quality of our future. We can be simply reactive, reading and getting absorbed in the news, or we can be proactive, using our downtime to recalibrate our life compass. Whatever your wishes for the post-COVID-19 world, I hope you too are doing what you can to make them come true.

Disclosure: Hovanesian reports no relevant financial disclosures.