Saturday, April 11, 2020

COVID-19 Impels Paradigm Shift In Public Health And Medicine

We all know that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.  COVID-19 is certainly a major crisis. There will be changes all over the world in medicine, public health, government, financing, social relations, and certainly art. What will those changes be?
Capitalism is a very potent tool to use in conceptualizing what changes are afoot. Thinking like an investor is a great way to envision the future. Nothing like thinking "how could I make money off this” to impel serious effort.
Health and medicine is my field, and it's a little known fact that, besides being a pediatrician, I am also a board certified specialist in preventive medicine, and I am an investor of long standing. So let me just write a short note using that background to opine on changes I see right now stemming from the pandemic.
I think there could well be several paradigm shifts in health care. Think of it first in the very short term. Think of hospitals needing to open up to do “elective” surgery and other traditional services. What do they need? They need to ensure that the operative areas are safe for patients and staff. How to do that? Real time testing - everyone coming in is certified free of virus at that very time. It may mean a nasal swab every day - the Abbott testing system might work for this purpose. Other tests will be developed. As an investor, I would really like to know who's close on this - a small company with a dynamite real time test would be very valuable. 
Now think a little bigger. Won't every company want to do the same thing? Think about going into the stadium and going through the security line. That's the way to think of it, imho. Testing for germs will be more important than testing for knives and guns. Who's going to supply the equipment for the security line testing? That's the company I want to own.
Then let's think about schools as well. Schools are the traditional incubators for winter viruses – want to know who's going to get sick during the winter? Figure out who has kids in school. It seems to me that, when flu season comes up, the winter time, even when COVID-19 has a vaccine and has receded from being a pandemic, we're still going to have the usual culprits circulating, like flu, and maybe new ones. There will be enhanced utilization of flu vaccine, no doubt. But early detection will always be key.

How are we going to detect illness in order to isolate it? Security lines will get old fast. Instead, new technologies will have to emerge – in fact, they're already emerging – that sense signs of illness. Think about wearing a watch that tells you that you are about to get sick, you need to be tested to see what it is. Eric Topol is always all over this kind of thing: 

In medical care, telehealth will now undoubtedly take off. Outpatient health care providers were already starting to employ telehealth, and now they are all in. I think that very soon more than 50% of doctor visits will be virtual. See here for what Israel is doing:

Telehealth needs all these sensing devices and all the communications. It will be a complete paradigm shift. I want to own those communication and sensing device companies!

Yours for profit in making the world a safer and better place,

Budd Shenkin

No comments:

Post a Comment