Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Covid-19: the long road to recovery

Covid-19: transforming healthcare will require collaboration and innovative policies

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 05 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2229
  1. Eliza Lai-Yi Wong, professor1,
  2. Eng-kiong Yeoh, professor1,
  3. Dong Dong, research assistant professor2
  1. 1JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  2. 2Room 419, 4/F, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong
  1. dongdong{at}

Recovering from the covid-19 pandemic will be a long and difficult journey.1 The medical consequences will lead to an increasing number of patients with chronic multimorbidities—some of them far younger than the typical patient with these chronic conditions. A multidisciplinary care plan needs to be designed and laid out for survivors of the pandemic.

But a larger group of patients is also heavily affected. As the frontline workforce is stretched caring for patients with covid-19, routine services for ongoing care and long term treatment have been suspended. In Hong Kong, for example, “non-essential” services, such as specialised cancer consultations, were not resumed until 5 May 2020, after 14 days without any local cases of covid-19.2

Covid-19 might become endemic in the human population,3 so we must think about how to restructure our healthcare systems at multiple levels to maintain operation of services for both covid-19 and the ongoing needs of all other patients. One possible solution is to include more telemedicine infrastructures. In the United Kingdom and China such virtual health technologies have been adopted for patients with covid-19.4 But to make it one of the modalities of healthcare requires collaboration among multiple stakeholders from multiple sectors, directed by both local and global perspectives, including early investment in facilities, building trust in healthcare workers, and shifting the ingrained patient culture that heavily relies on face-to-face healthcare.

Such a multifactorial approach calls for new theories and frameworks for transforming the current healthcare system and can only be enabled by innovative policies and accountable leadership. There is a long road ahead, but it might lead towards hope if we all discard unilateralism, antagonism, and isolationism.


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