One big breaking news item in healthcare so far this month has been the cancellation of HIMSS20 due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, which was closely followed by event cancellations from the American Pharmacists Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives, undoubtedly with more to come. While we regret missing the opportunity to convene with healthcare innovators and stakeholders across the industry, we support these associations’ caution and encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines for staying healthy and slowing the spread of the disease. Sentry Data Systems has activated our business continuity plan and has begun to initiate essential-only travel and remote work for all staff.
It’s worth noting that during outbreaks like this one (which HHS declared a public health emergency in January, the WHO classified as a pandemic on March 11, and for which the President announced a national emergency on March 13), a large percentage of the patients seeking treatment are turning to nonprofit hospitals and covered entities.
Healthcare groups, too, understand the power of the safety net in this situation. The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) were among those who requested that the President declare a national emergency. The AAMC said the move would “give agencies and stakeholders targeted additional flexibility to address immediate challenges and prevent further issues,” according to Healthcare Dive.
In particular, the recent national emergency declaration allows for 1135 waivers. “Those waivers could allow critical access hospitals to forego their usual limitations of 25 inpatient beds and 96-hour lengths of stay, for example, and let doctors practice in a state where they aren’t licensed so long as they have the necessary licensing in another state,” Healthcare Dive said.
“The additional action we request would help them continue to put the well-being, health and safety of patients first by removing barriers that threaten to impede decisive and quick action by providers at a time when agility and flexibility are of utmost importance,” AHA CEO Rick Pollack said in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence.
Sentry recognizes that it’s the savings from programs like 340B that enable safety net hospitals to have the necessary specialists and resources on-hand to handle challenges such as the current COVID-19 situation as it continues to unfold. Covered entities can monitor guidelines for 340B program enrollment during a public health emergency on the Office of Pharmacy Affairs home page. We commend our front-line health care providers for their commitment to the safety of their communities.