COVID-19 Series: This is why I’m here. This is why we exist.

What am I feeling?

As I write this, I am on my way home to Washington, D.C. from Aspen, CO, where I spent the past five days attending the Aspen Institute Executive Seminar with leaders from healthcare, education and civil society fellowships. I am honored to be included, humbled by their intellect and accomplishments and inspired by the task we have been given. This is the same campus where Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Nelson Mandela proposed the grandest aspirations of hope, innovation and equality. 

We were asked to convene and contemplate a rather lofty concept: the Good Society — the nature of being human, how communities form, what we value most, the role of government, racial equity…all of it. It is big and complicated. And, for many, it is elusive and inconceivable. Specifically, in the U.S. today, we are too far from it for too many. Our job: Do something about it. Now. 

On one hand, it was difficult and to some perhaps absurd to remain present this week with news about the coronavirus pandemic pouring in. More confirmed cases. More deaths. Extensive travel bans. Even the virtual shutdown of major sports leagues for the first time in history—a cultural fabric of our country gone in a day in response to the global emergency.

On the other hand, the gathering and our discussions in Aspen could not have been more timely. How do we respond in a crisis where so much uncertainty exists and when life and death is at stake? Will test kits and treatments be reserved for the “chosen ones”? Can we harness the best of people, government, medicine and technology in the worst of times? Values-based leaders, this is your moment. 

I’m concerned. Two thousand miles from home, I can hear the growing anxiety in the voices of my wife and two daughters. I feel it in the extra texts from my 14-year-old: “I miss u daddy. Are u coming home today? XXOO.” My 75-year-old mother, who has a compromised immune system, is afraid. She’s moved into our home from across town, escaping her condo building where a neighbor and friend is quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19.

I’ll be home soon from the utopia of Aspen, where people gather to contemplate the biggest societal questions. And, where they announced yesterday that three people have contracted the disease. It is big. It is real. It is now. What if I carry it home with me? Can I hug my wife and kids? Is Mom safe?

Why us, why now?

At GetWellNetwork, we have worked for 20 years alongside leading healthcare providers to educate, engage and empower millions of patients and families when healthcare becomes front and center in their lives. For every American, and for billions of people across the globe, COVID-19 has brought healthcare front and center like never before. This is why I am here, and this is why we exist.

Now, perhaps more than ever, patients and families need the right information at the right time so they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families in the face of great confusion, anxiety and risk. Providers need to communicate and coordinate care effectively and efficiently during this pandemic, and ensure patients get the right care in the right setting to reduce harm and prevent death, and prevent overwhelm of the system.

Patient self-management, telehealth and patient-reported outcomes will be critical success factors. That’s why GetWellNetwork is leveraging its comprehensive digital platform to launch an innovative COVID-19 program to bend the curve on the risk, spread and impact of the deadly virus.

Our job: Do something about it. Now.