One slide in a leaked presentation for US hospitals reveals that they're preparing for millions of hospitalizations as the outbreak unfolds
Hospitals are confronting the rising threat of the novel coronavirus in the US. The spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the US could push the healthcare system to its limits. In a February webinar presentation hosted by the American Hospital Association, an expert laid out "best guess" estimates about how many Americans could be impacted. He projected that there could be as many as 96 million cases in the US, 4.8 million hospitalizations, and 480,000 deaths associated with the novel coronavirus. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Hospitals are bracing for millions of Americans to be hospitalized as part of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The American Hospital Association, which represents thousands of hospitals and health systems, hosted a webinar in February with its member hospitals and health systems. Business Insider obtained a copy of the slides presented. The presentation, titled "What healthcare leaders need to know: Preparing for the COVID-19" happened February 26, with representatives from the National Ebola Training and Education Center. As part of the presentation to hospitals, Dr. James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center gave his "best guess" estimates of how much the virus might spread in the US. Lawler's estimates include:
4.8 million hospitalizations associated with the novel coronavirus 96 million cases overall in the US 480,000 deaths Overall, the slide points out that hospitals should prepare for an impact to the system that's 10 times a severe flu season.
Here's the slide:
The slide does not give a particular time frame. The slide represents "his interpretation of the data available. It's possible that forecast will change as more information becomes available," a spokesman for Nebraska Medicine told Business Insider in an email. The American Hospital Association said the webinar reflects the views of the experts who spoke on it, not its own. "The AHA regularly hosts webinars and conference calls that include a variety of voices and opinions that seek to provide relevant information to professionals at hospitals and health systems that are on the front lines of preparing for and protecting their patients and communities," a spokeswoman for the AHA told Business Insider in an emailed statement. "The slides you shared reflect the various perspectives of field experts and should not be attributed to the AHA." In particular, the slide points out that hospitals should prepare for an impact to the system that's 10 times a severe flu season. Lawler isn't alone in anticipating widespread infections. Marc Lipsitch an epidemiology professor at Harvard University told The Atlantic he predicts anywhere from 40-70% of people globally will be infected with the novel coronavirus within the next year. See the presentation hospitals are using to prepare for a major coronavirus outbreak in the US.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What's inside these 8 unique creatures
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Hospitals in the U.S. are above 90 percent capacity without any considerations for COVID-19 demands. According...Hospitals in the U.S. are above 90 percent capacity without any considerations for COVID-19 demands. According the planners of Event 201, and other experts, we will soon see a surge in demand at U.S. hospitals that is almost impossible to imagine.Photo illustration by enzoalessandra / ShutterstockHow many people could die from a novel coronavirus infection? Of course, no one knows. But just before anyone had a hint of COVID-19, we got an estimate from a panel of health, security, and economic experts: 65 million deaths worldwide within 18 months.That is a high estimate—likely far too high—from a model with a bunch of assumptions. But it is based on enough solid scientific, political, and business expertise to make you stop wondering why you can’t go to your local restaurant, visit your grandmother in the nursing home, and why there is every reason to be very concerned.In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum hosted a pandemic tabletop exercise called Event 201. It simulated the appearance of a novel coronavirus disease that spread from bats to pigs to people. “There is no possibility of a vaccine being…Read More…
This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence Digital Health Briefing subscribers earlier this morning. To...This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence Digital Health Briefing subscribers earlier this morning. To get this story plus others to your inbox each day, hours before they're published on Business Insider, click here. Rx.Health — the digital health startup spun out of Mount Sinai Health System — has crafted a telehealth toolkit to help connect docs from US hospitals with digital solutions that could help them better prepare for and contend with the coronavirus pandemic, MedCity News reports. Rx.Health's digital health hub includes digital triage platforms, tools that help spot high-risk patients, and platforms that enable virtual consultations and remote monitoring. Rx.Health usually charges hospitals a fee to use its platform, but it's temporarily waiving those fees in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Telehealth has been lauded as a potential balm to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the US — but traditional health firms may need outside help to facilitate implementation of digital tools: Telehealth adoption is set to skyrocket as the coronavirus has more patients seeking care from their homes. Public health officials are touting "social distancing" as a means of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and government organizations including the CDC are encouraging patients to seek medical treatment and advice virtually. Because many patients will have no other choice — and because traditional provider firms are lengthening their lists of virtual offerings amid the pandemic — we expect to see the needle move on telehealth adoption, which has remained meager among US adults. Even within the first couple of months of the virus' existence in the US, telehealth firms are seeing impressive growth: California-based PlushCare reported a 40% uptick in appointments since December — compared with the usual 10% spike in visits during flu season. US hospitals are prepping to become inundated with patients as the coronavirus worsens — so they'll likely need the help of digital health firms to implement effective tech solutions that could ease the burden. Hospitals nationwide are preparing for the number of potential, severe coronavirus cases to outpace the number of hospital beds in intensive care units (ICUs) available, according to The Boston Globe. As they prep to contend with this crisis, it may prove difficult to simultaneously instate novel telehealth programs, especially for smaller hospitals that may not have a strong tech infrastructure in place. And products like Rx.Health's — which streamlines the process of wading through options — will become more need-to-have to help facilitate tech implementations for a workforce that's already stretched thin. The coronavirus is opening up partnership opportunities for digital health firms and health systems — and we think these relationships will last beyond the pandemic. Rx.Health is acting as an intermediary between digital health companies and hospitals, partnering with digital health providers that want to get their products into the hands of doctors: For example, it tied up with Redox — a startup that seeks to speed up the sharing of patient health records — and clinical voice assistant company Suki — which has shown to slash time associated with note-taking, an onerous admin task for clinicians. Landing on Rx.Health's toolkit should pave the way for digital health firms to forge ties with overburdened hospitals that turn to these solutions for relief amid the coronavirus crisis — and these partnerships likely won't get shelved after the pandemic dies down. Telehealth companies, especially, could be slated for continued uptake, considering the coronavirus has had private and government-sponsored insurers modifying virtual care reimbursement and access policies. Want to read more stories like this one? Here's how to get access: Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the healthcare industry and provides in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. >> Check if your company has BII Enterprise membership access. Sign up for the Digital Health Briefing, Business Insider Intelligence's expert email newsletter tailored for today's (and tomorrow's) decision-makers in the healthcare industry, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started Explore related topics in more depth. >> Visit Our Report Store Current subscribers can log in to read the briefing here. Join the conversation about this story »
'We're underprepared:' Urgent care centers find themselves on the front lines of a pandemic, but few have tests to treat the crowds coming in
Urgent care centers are finding themselves on the front lines of the response to the novel...Urgent care centers are finding themselves on the front lines of the response to the novel coronavirus, whether they're ready or not. Over the past few years, these centers have pitched themselves as an alternative to the emergency room. Now that claim is being put to the test. When faced with the coronavirus pandemic, many don't have access to tests for COVID-19. And they've been grappling with how to handle the influx of patients worried they might have the virus. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Dr. J.D. Zipkin, the associate medical director for a chain of urgent care centers, noticed a big difference on Thursday. That day, as Broadway went dark and sports games got canceled, the clinics he oversees in New York and New Jersey went from treating one or two patients with suspected cases of the novel coronavirus to seeing entire families worried they might have come in contact with the disease. The cases, he said, are escalating. As of Friday, New Yok had reported more than 400 cases. As the virus spreads, the urgent care centers he works with have had to figure out how to handle potential cases of the novel coronavirus, which is highly contagious. For years, urgent care centers have pitched themselves as a cheaper and more convenient alternative to the emergency room, for everything from a sore throat to a deep cut or minor fracture. Now, the highly contagious coronavirus pandemic is putting them to the test, and they're not all ready. "It's the first pandemic that urgent care has been stably around for," Zipkin said. Zipkin's clinics are better prepared, because they're affiliated with the giant Northwell Health hospital system. Other clinics don't have tests, or are trying to limit patient visits to conserve supplies of crucial protective gear. Zipkin, who works for Northwell Health – GoHealth Urgent Care, said his centers are sending in more than 100 samples a day to be tested for the coronavirus. To prevent patients from infection others, the centers text patients ahead of time to ask if they have symptoms like a fever, shortness of breath, or dry cough. Those patients are greeted with a mask outside the door. Read more: The US is struggling to ramp up testing for the coronavirus. Here's how healthcare giants and startups are racing to help. "Urgent care centers are the frontline of healthcare, period," Heather Fernandez, CEO of Solv, a healthcare startup that connects people to urgent care appointments, told Business Insider. "It is where they have been going, it is where they are going first. Every urgent care in the country needs to recognize that that's the reality and have the appropriate protocols." Urgent care has cemented itself in the US health system Over the past two decades, urgent care centers have been catching on as Americans increasingly seek convenient ways to get healthcare. As of 2018, there were more than 8,700 urgent care locations around the US. Read more: The doctor who founded CityMD and sold it for $600 million explains how a new kind of medical clinic is changing how Americans get healthcare But the services offered by the centers typically don't extend to highly infections conditions like tuberculosis and measles that require higher levels of protective gear and rooms to handle infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that doctors should use a higher level of protection for coronavirus than they'd use for a patient with the flu. "When we had a novel flu like swine flu, we were the place to go," Dr. Sean McNeeley, the former president of the the College of Urgent Care Medicine who's heading up the organization's COVID-19 task force told Business Insider. In those cases, the medical providers at urgent care centers could wear protective masks, while for coronavirus, CDC says respirators and other protective gear are appropriate. If the coronavirus requires that level of special equipment, McNeeley said, "we may not be the place to do it." Urgent care centers, he said, are following the guidelines set by the CDC. And the role urgent care centers might be able to play is variable, based on whether each center is a part of a larger health system and included in emergency preparedness planning — like at Northwell — or if they're standalone. Treating potential coronavirus patients Already, however, people with concerns they have the novel coronavirus are showing up to urgent care centers. Meira B, a 29-year-old librarian in Suffolk County, New York, went to a nearby urgent care center on Friday at the urging of family members who were worried her cold might be more than a cold. Business Insider isn't using her last name at her request to protect her privacy. She called ahead and was told to fill out a form asking if she had certain symptoms, had recently traveled, or had been in contact with people who had been to one of the countries where the virus was widespread. At the clinic, patients were asked to wait in their cars to avoid infecting others. After about an hour, she got a call telling her to come in. Inside, a medical professional covered in protective gear gave her a flu test, which came back negative. She wasn't tested for the coronavirus and was sent home with a prescription for cold medicines. The choice to visit the urgent care was driven by the coronavirus pandemic. "If this weren't the current state of our world I wouldn't have gone to the doctor," Meira said. An urgent care doctor based in Los Angeles who spoke under the condition of anonymity because he hadn't been given permission to speak with the press, told Business Insider that his clinic isn't equipped to test patients for the coronavirus. Instead, doctors are talking to patients, figuring out if they're likely to have then disease, and then sending them to an emergency room or testing center. All the urgent care site can do is rule out flu, he said. "That's the general frustration from urgent care is we don't have an ability to test patients that we have a high clinical suspicion might have it," he said. "In that way we're underprepared." New York-based urgent care operator CityMD on Friday told patients experiencing mild cold/flu symptoms not to come in for a coronavirus test. "Currently, widespread testing is unavailable and may even be counterproductive, because the demand for testing will overwhelm our ability to care for the sickest, most vulnerable patients," the company said on its website. Read more: The US is struggling to test more people for the coronavirus. Now it's facing a shortage of the materials used to run those tests. At the same time, patients are being directed to avoid the emergency room and seek care elsewhere. "People are scared. They're hearing not to go to the emergency room, so they're turning to urgent care," Erik Vanderlip, the chief medical officer of Portland, Oregon-based Zoom+Care, which operates convenient care clinics. Vanderlip said that to keep his clinics from running low on protective gear, the company has been directing patients to get care either through video chats or text-based visits. The clinics can't test for coronavirus yet, but plan to next week, he said. On Thursday, the Urgent Care Association, the industry's trade group, partnered with Solv to provide free video telemedicine services and a COVID-19 assessment bot with the hopes of helping urgent care providers offer more care virtually, reducing the number of patients going to clinics. Hospitals could be overwhelmed by the pandemic Zipkin, with Northwell Health — GoHealth Urgent Care in New York, is confident his centers can take on the patients. The ultimate goal is to keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed by patients who don't need a higher level of care. By some estimates, millions of Americans sickened by coronavirus might need a hospital stay. That could put a strain on staff, tax supplies of equipment, and even put facilities at risk of running out of room. "We have to protect our ERs. We have to protect our hospitals," Zipkin said. Are you on the front lines of this at your pharmacy, primary care office, urgent care center, or hospital? I want to chat with you (when you have a free moment!). I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more: A leaked presentation reveals the document US hospitals are using to prepare for a major coronavirus outbreak. It estimates 96 million US coronavirus cases and 480,000 deaths. 'We're gearing up for something extremely significant': Top hospitals across the US told us how they're preparing for the coronavirus outbreak A doctor at the epicenter of the coronavirus response in Italy warns US hospitals to avoid getting overwhelmed by the pandemic Hospitals could be overwhelmed with patients and run out of beds and ventilators as the coronavirus pushes the US healthcare system to its limits Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What's really going on inside an insect-munching venus flytrap