These are interesting times here at St. Charles, and in the world of health care as a whole. We're facing historic upheaval in an industry that was already fundamentally broken and needs to change in a way that benefits our patients.

At the same time, however, I see incredible opportunity as a result of COVID-19, which has forced health systems like ours to rethink and transform the way we do things in a matter of days or weeks. Without the push of a pandemic, those kinds of changes might have otherwise taken months or even years.

Because those changes have come so rapidly over the past few months, now is an excellent time to analyze what we've done, how it has worked and how we can sustain the progress we've made.

That's where you, our community, comes in.

In last month's St. Charles newsletter, we rolled out a new survey focused on innovation in health care and I'm happy to announce that nearly 1,100 people have responded. If you were one of them, please accept my sincere thanks.

In the survey, we asked a handful of questions about our current health care system and we solicited ideas for improvement. We are still working through the responses, but we're already seeing some trends in the feedback that will help guide the way we think about the services we provide as we go forward.

For example, we know that about two-thirds of respondents have already had a virtual visit with St. Charles in the past six months. And generally speaking, they liked the convenience and safety of meeting with a physician by email, phone or video. More than half said they would consider continuing virtual visits even after in-person visits are an option again. Said one respondent: "It's about time we're doing this!"

Not everyone agrees, of course. There are many of you who believe a virtual visit can never provide the same kind of experience you get in a face-to-face meeting with your physician. Understandably so.

This is just a tiny sliver of the data we'll be able to glean from our innovation survey, and I look forward to sharing more about the results in the future. In the meantime, we're meeting with virtual focus groups made up of survey respondents to have more in-depth discussions about the future of health care in Central Oregon.

Those are exactly the kinds of discussions that I and other leaders at St. Charles love to have. We are in this field for a reason. We are passionate about providing people with the care they need in the most efficient and affordable way possible. And each and every one of us is committed to making St. Charles a better place to receive care.

Sometimes, though, we get so caught up in the day-to-day operations of the health system, we don't have as much time as we would like to think about the future from a big-picture perspective.

I'll bet at least some of you out there can relate.

So as we move forward through this process, I'm choosing to be grateful that, for all its negatives, COVID-19 has brought transformation to St. Charles. We're excited to see where it goes from here.



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