The 'better than normal' future: Hartford HealthCare CEO aims to emerge from COVID-19 more innovative than before

Jeffrey A. Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare, penned an op-ed for the Hartford Currant on May 15 that outlined the aspects of healthcare delivery and innovation the health system aims to maintain as it returns to the "better than normal" post-pandemic period.

"In several important areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us recognize that what we accepted as 'normal' was actually nowhere near good enough. Our response to this crisis — focused, rapid and deliberate — gives me hope that lasting change can take root, and a better model for healthcare will emerge," he wrote.

The "better than normal" healthcare Mr. Flaks envisions is a more equitable, convenient, engaging and prepared health system that will level the playing field for all populations to access healthcare and be more nimble to respond in times of crisis. He said Hartford HealthCare is working with local and state leadership on COVID-19 testing capabilities for underserved neighborhoods and boosting virtual health efforts using advanced medical technology.

He also plans to keep one of the health system's first initiatives in response to the pandemic — a 24-hour hotline — accessible long after the pandemic subsides. The hotline has fielded 65,000 calls at all hours, inquiring about routine and emergent questions as well as behavioral health services.

"The pandemic continues to be a harrowing experience for us all," he wrote. "But each crisis presents unique opportunities, and we would be foolish to squander the rapid advancements and innovations we've undertaken to lessen the impact. With careful planning, attention to data, use of technology and inclusive elevation of voices from our most at-risk communities, we have an opportunity to create a new normal that sets the pace for the country."

More articles on healthcare leadership:
COVID-19 challenges healthcare's status quo: 3 things to know
Colorado hospital CEO: 'I think we made people afraid to come back'
NewYork-Presbyterian CXO Rick Evans: Leading through a spring like no other

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