Many people have been saying that everything will change after the COVID-19 pandemic passes and one of those industries that will be deeply affected is health care. The way we practice medicine and keep ourselves healthy is already different and will continue to change.
About half of our work as a general contractor is in the health care industry. We build a lot of urgent care centers, out-patient surgery centers and doctors’ offices. These smaller facilities are better for patients in many cases than going to the hospital. They are easier to get to, easier to navigate. And there aren’t nearly as many seriously ill people in small facilities.
These centers have been vital to the growth in medical centers as they help patients avoid long drives in traffic to hospitals downtown or on the West Side. Instead, patients are treated in these centers in their own neighborhood. We also recently completed a satisfying tenant improvement for the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, which offers medical, dental, and psychological counseling to those unable to pay for these services. One thing we have learned in the pandemic is that the old adage is true: We are in this together. Completing a project that will help others in need is good for the soul and all businesses must do their part.
But there will be changes in a post-pandemic world. The patient might not want to leave the house. Tele-medicine, where patient and doctor meet by phone of video call, will play a more important role. Apps and online tools will likely involve the patient more in their own care. Medical care and staying healthy and safe will be even more important in a post-pandemic population where, hopefully, we are all more aware of how a disease can spread and make many people ill.
Rather than be the death of medical clinics and hospitals, this could actually lead to a boom in medical care. Consider how many things can change:
• Imagine a world where a patient can skip the visit to the primary care provider. Where the patient can enter a lot of data, take some diagnostic tests online and be sent right to a specialist for care. Devices like digital stethoscopes, portable ECG monitors and digital otoscopes can be used at home and the results shared remotely with doctors. The doctor, with a lot of data that used to be gathered only after the patient made an office visit and had laboratory work done, would instead be given a cache of objective data and could refer the patient right to a specialist. This would save the system and the patient time and money.
• When the coronavirus first appeared, there was so much misinformation and advice offered. Imagine a post-pandemic society where health protocols were quickly given to the public along with information about where to go to get masks, sanitizers, medicines and other tools necessary. This would create the need now to build more and smaller health facilities so that hospitals and current facilities are not overwhelmed as we saw this time.
• These same facilities could provide people with devices to help them track their vital statistics and their travel and whom they come in contact with. Imagine the difference in this pandemic if all those who spread the disease could have provided a comprehensive list of whom they contacted.
• There will be medical facilities in places where they did not exist before. In a post-COVID-19 world, there will be small medical centers in transportation hubs, schools, grocery stores and (if there are any) shopping malls. The public will demand access to primary and simple medical testing and treatment
• Speaking of airports, travel will become even a little more cumbersome than it is now. If you thought going through airport security was a hassle, wait until you are asked to provide an immunity passport, and overseas travel requires you to complete a document listing all the places where you contacted others. But these could become part of our medical protocols to stop the spread of deadly illnesses. There is no question that airports are going to feature a lot more space for medical facilities in our future.
Finally, let’s stop and give a long and loud cheer for our healthcare workers, and then talk about their future.
Our nurses, doctors and all health care workers deserve our gratitude for their dedication and long hours. So many of them faced this battle while distancing themselves from spouses, children and other loved ones. They practiced medicine on our behalf and then could not even be comforted when off-duty.
We are going to have to take better care of our health care workers. Hospitals are going to need more warehouse facilities where they can keep an adequate supply of personal protection equipment and ventilators. They are going to need mental health facilities to treat the traumatic stress that these workers endured.
This was all so new for everyone from equipment and massive demands all at once. From test kits and labs for performing this. There are many lessons we can get from this so we are all better prepared for the next one.
At Parker Brown we believe that medical facilities will continue to be a major component of our business. We are ready to partner with our health care leaders to face the future.
John Parker is co-founder of Parker Brown Inc. Learn more at parkerbrowninc.com.
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