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The Need for Fixed Healthcare, Post-COVID

An infectious disease chief medical officer discusses the cracks in US healthcare exposed by the pandemic.

The ongoing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic shines an ugly light on the flaws of public health response capability and prioritization of resources.

As much can be observed in reports of PPE shortages, ventilator needs, and concerns over costs for antiviral agents that could mean the different between a severe patient going to the ICU, or going home.

But to some, the light is not shined on the parts of the system, but on the entire system itself. Many people call for the reprioritization of funding or systemic changes to the means by which eligible candidates can become clinicians. They want more doctors, or better, affordable resources.

Brad Spellberg, MD, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center, has put such challenges to pen and paper.

The author of the book Broken, Bankrupt and Dying, published in June, talked with Contagion recently on the subject of COVID-19’s effect on exposing US healthcare system flaws—as well as the limitations of the infectious disease subspecialty.

Spellberg noted the greatest issue in private healthcare-facing system is being exacerbated right now by the pandemic: COVID-19 has affected the economic status as significant as it has the healthcare system.

“I think we also can speak to the fact that we don’t have enough ID specialists in the United States to handle public health crises and global pandemics, because our specialty is not aligned with the predominant market forces of the fee-for-service health system, which the US remains in, while most other health systems do not,” he said.