It was not long after COVID-19 hit the U.S. that Dr. Ari Robicsek, chief analytics officer for Renton, Wash.-based Providence, began seeing patients reporting symptoms tied to the virus.
A year ago, the virus was largely a mystery, making it hard to pinpoint a diagnosis. Testing was scarce, and shortness of breath and tightness in the chest weren’t immediate red flags for COVID.
When his sister showed symptoms, Robicsek began to think about the years it normally takes to collect and analyze enough patient data to inform patient care. While that process is thorough and there for a reason, it makes it hard for clinicians like him to adapt quickly—something that is necessary to contain spread and fight mortality.
“It was frustrating both as her brother and as an infectious-disease specialist that we knew so little about this disease,” Robicsek said.
So like many others in healthcare over the past year, Robicsek worked quickly to develop a clinical project to collect and analyze information based on the first-person accounts of COVID-19 patients.
“One of the things I think this teaches us is that we need to re-think our model about how we learn about disease,” Robicsek said. “We need to ask ourselves as a medical community how do we engage in more participatory research.”
The pandemic, despite being tragic and widespread, created models that taught providers, payers and their affiliated partners to create more efficient methods and improve care. Chief among them is going directly to the patient, whether to care for them in their homes or simply for their opinions and stories.
“A recurring theme I think you will see throughout the healthcare industry is how the pandemic forced providers to go places where they otherwise would not have been and how that’s going to change consumption patterns,” said Andrew Sorenson, chief analytics officer at Castell, a firm owned by Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare that provides support to help stakeholders transition to value-based pay models.