Most hospitals and doctors offices are closed for business as usual. Many remain open for exceptional emergencies such as near fatal heart attacks and life threatening accidents. That leaves many of us without routine care or even care for serious chronic illness. For example, my follow up appointments for cancer care are cancelled indefinitely. Fortunately I am at very low risk for reoccurrence, but many people with serious chronic conditions are not so lucky.

The best estimate suggests that the combined toll of the pandemic on deaths not directly related to infection may be as great as the number of deaths form COVID-19 itself. That data comes from measurement of monthly excess deaths in Western European countries.

When we can return to hospitals and doctors offices for care, what will that care be like? Granted, telemedicine can fill part of the need, but certainly not all. We still need physical interactions with doctors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently offered guidance for what resuming medical care for non-COVID related illness should look like.

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Originally published on Forbes (April 21, 2020)