We recently hosted a discussion with Dr. Maulik Majmudar, Cardiologist and Principal Medical Officer at Amazon and Rodrigo Martinez, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at CIC Health. Maulik and Rodrigo shared their unique perspective on how healthcare has changed during COVID-19 and exciting opportunities for innovation as we emerge from the pandemic.

What are some of the most significant ways that the pandemic has impacted the healthcare system?

Rodrigo: We realized that our traditional healthcare system is not ready to address getting people tested and getting people vaccinated. The hospitals, and for the most part, clinics were not prepared for that.

We realized that traditional healthcare players are designed for certain things, pandemics and dealing with customers that are not their patients are not one of them. There was the emergence of players like us, like CIC health, in between the silos. How is it that a nine month old startup is now one of the largest testing and vaccinating companies in the country? Getting the actual vial, pushing out the liquid and into the arm, where’s that going to happen? How do you communicate, schedule, and manage logistics? The emergence of new types of players like us that have to partner or complement other aspects of the healthcare system or players.

Maulik: The pandemic has really opened our eyes to healthcare infrastructure. We never really thought deeply about how and why we deliver care the way that we do. We have this very transactional model of ⏤ there’s a brick and mortar facility, patients schedule a visit, come in when they feel there’s a symptomatic problem. It’s a one to one transaction there with a clinician and then everything revolves around that brick and mortar facility. We’ve never thought through, is that individual…is that the right time, the right place, the right medium in which they should be receiving care? The pandemic has really forced us to think hard about those things.

We realized that a significant amount of care can be delivered in different settings, at different frequencies, and with different role groups. If you look at the care team models, it’s not always the doctor, it can be the nurse practitioner, different role groups can achieve this care. For a lot of diseases, there are tools available now, and they’ve been available for a while. We never realized that they actually allow you to manage care more efficiently, but also with better quality and better experience.

In the clip below, Rodrigo and Maulik discuss whether new entrants or incumbents will drive the design and adoption of new telehealth services and care models.

What core challenges have been exposed?

Rodrigo and Maulik agreed that communications have been a huge challenge throughout the pandemic. We need to improve upon the ability to synthesize and communicate scientific information in a way that leads to clarify as opposed to confusion.

What notable trends have accelerated through the pandemic in a constructive and helpful way?

Maulik: Where credit is due, I’ll start with Pharma. The ability to see how drug discovery or vaccine development are happening at such a rapid pace is incredible. I think that things will just accelerate further, because there are now real proof points on the value of a combination of computational biology, technology, and science.

I think seeing how health systems were able to deliver care in a different way, so fast, and then deploy technologies, whether it be Amazon Echoes, camera systems, or other technologies, just to do what they need to deliver care efficiently and safely, has opened up this whole entire world of virtual care. People have realized that you can deliver care, even complex care to complex patients safely and effectively, through a combination of technologies. I think that that single term, just virtualization of care, expands all the way from outpatient visits, to more complex care now around even heart failure patients, or even oncology patients. Even some of the surgical stuff is moving out towards more lower acuity settings. That theme is going to continue for a while, and there will be more innovation around how do you tack in services to the technology stack, to even make it more of a better experience, and do it more efficiently.

Rodrigo: I would say creating services for consumers. I think the fact that dealing with appointments of vaccinations was an issue with the whole country is just mind boggling. Something as simple as being able to understand where to get your vaccine and having a time slot in a way that is efficient. Simplifying interactions with anything that has to do with your health.

We’re going to see companies emerging like ours, offering health related services in places where you typically don’t think a lot about. We’re doing COVID testing in a subway station and as well as in schools, and we’re doing vaccines in a convention center and in stadiums. It doesn’t really matter where, and people love it. And by the way, people talk more about their experience in places like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park because they are connected to another aspect of their life to others, and then they share with their family members. Aspects of care and your health in general, can happen in many different places. I think we’ll have more technology that enabled for that, whether it’s scheduling, paying for booking, etc, as well as services that you can say pick and choose.

Read the recap of our December 2020 discussion with industry leaders on COVID-19 and Vaccines, Return-to-Work, and the Economy. We were delighted to host Dr. Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) and Biospring’s advisors Sir John Bell, Katie Burke, and Dr. Peter B. Henry.