In 1980 the World Health Organization declared smallpox eliminated, a long 21 years after the start of the eradication program. Initial steps focused on mass vaccination in a quest for herd immunity. In developed countries with robust infrastructure, this proved relatively straightforward. This was not the case for developing countries with large numbers of hard-to-reach villages. Once most of the world’s population was immunized, the eradication program switched its focus from a quest for herd immunity through vaccination to early identification of every smallpox case. Once discovered, rapid deployment teams mobilized to the area to immunize everyone within miles of…

The Sunday announcement by FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen A Hahn that convalescent plasma had received emergency approval quickly sparked much controversy and serious concern in the medical community. While stating that the treatment reduced deaths by 35%, the data does not support such a claim.

We have two choices to crush this pandemic: 1) Vaccination of a large percentage of our population, and 2) Herd immunity. This latter option is a poor choice due to its increase in COVID-19 deaths, morbidity, and associated chronic disease, and the prospect that infection may offer only short-lasting immunity. …

Our country now faces the most significant public health crisis in more than a century. The COVID-19 virus has upended our lives and put all of us at risk for illness. As we approach the Fall, our thoughts turn to our children and their need to return to school. We know that attending school not only affords our children with an education that they can use throughout their lives, but also socialization with their friends and teachers. This is an important part of their path to adulthood. In addition, for many children school represents the opportunity to obtain proper nutrition…

In my first two articles on our road to recovery, I covered the first two phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. In them I shared my thoughts on how provider organizations could restart their service lines and expand their operations.

Phase 3 of the pandemic is defined as the time when businesses are expanding their offerings, the incidence of COVID-19 infection is decreasing, and we have some treatments but no vaccine. Although there is some degree of herd immunity created by recovered COVID-19 patients, it is not at a level that significantly impacts disease spread.

It is unknown how long phase…

As I write this at the end of March, I am confronted with a world turned upside down. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every part of my daily routine, limiting my trips to the grocery store, physically distancing me from family, friends, and colleagues, and forcing me to work from home. I am learning to adjust to my new work environment, substituting in-person meetings with video webinars, finding other sources of entertainment, and embracing strategies that make me feel less isolated. I suspect this experience will fundamentally change how we do our work and interact with each other. …

In my first article on a Provider Road to Recovery I shared the steps provider organizations needed to take to respond to the needs of patients who delayed elective care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By taking these steps organizations restarted their service lines while taking measures to ensure that their patients did not seek other providers to obtain treatment.

As I write this at the beginning of June, our country is experiencing Phase 1 of the pandemic. Businesses are re-opening, the incidence of disease is decreasing, and we do not have a vaccine or any meaningful treatments for COVID-19…

The American Hospital Association estimates the lost revenue to hospitals from the pandemic to be $50.7 bil. per month or $202.6 bil. over the four-month period March 1 through June 30, 2020. Their estimates are based upon expected cancellations of patient services, increased costs of personal protective equipment, and increased expenses tied to providing support to frontline workers.

To survive, provider organizations must quickly restore their previous revenue streams while preparing for the potential next waves of the pandemic. Successful recovery for these organizations is not represented by a return to the old ways of providing services. The road to…

The inherent nature of patient care requires making a choice. What therapy will help the patient get better? What is the probability the drug will cure the disease? What are the risks? Can the chemotherapy lead to injury or death?

Both clinicians and their patients are faced with these options daily. Oncology patients regularly choose among paths where their decision has very serious and sometimes tragic consequences.

My dad, suffering from advanced prostate cancer, received a chemotherapy dose that compromised his immune system. He quickly caught pneumonia and died just a few days later. He was 63 years old. …

A crisis has a way of focusing the mind. With millions infected and hundreds of thousands of dead from SARS-CoV-2 infections, thousands of life science company and university center researchers from around the world are working tirelessly to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In normal times, these researchers would work independently and protect their intellectual property. They would limit the release of their findings to patent filings and peer review journal articles. The pandemic has created times that are not normal with researchers, companies, and medical journals responding accordingly.

Syringe about to be used to inject vaccine into upper arm or patient.
Syringe about to be used to inject vaccine into upper arm or patient.

With these usual barriers to information sharing gone, researchers now freely distribute…

Barry P Chaiken, MD

Barry P. Chaiken, MD is writing a book on healthcare information technology using his over 30 years’ experience in the industry.

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