How to fix the '10 plagues of the healthcare system' during coronavirus

Tanya Attias, the co-founder and CEO of Medint, and her team studied the situation and delivered the report to the Health Ministry less than two months after they began it.

An empty hospital bed at Hasharon Hospital (photo credit: Courtesy)
An empty hospital bed at Hasharon Hospital
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As Health Ministry officials formulated a list of the most urgent issues involving hospital treatment for coronavirus patients ahead of the third wave, they turned to Medint, a private medical consulting company based in Tel Aviv, which gave them a report on how to combat what it termed the “10 plagues of the health system in the shadow of the coronavirus.”
Medint co-founder and CEO Tanya Attias and her team studied the situation and delivered the report to the Health Ministry less than two months after they began it.
Attias founded Medint – the name combines the words “medical” and “intelligence” – after serving in IDF Intelligence and later using her research skills to help a friend with cancer find the best treatment. The company works with doctors and researchers to find the best treatments and information for patients or, in this case, the best treatments for hospitals.
“Hospitals and the healthcare system have been struggling with many challenges in the shadow of the coronavirus for several months and are facing dilemmas and difficulties in the face of the complex reality,” Attias said. 
“We have compiled a special report for the Health Ministry to identify the most urgent and burning challenges in the field and find solutions based on extensive knowledge and experience from around the world that will enable staff to meet the challenges and provide a professional and efficient service to patients.
“The Health Ministry understands that the teams in the field know how to evaluate the latest situation and, with their help, address the gaps in order to continue to fight together against the spread of the virus and to give the best treatment to patients.”
Tanya Attias (Credit: Noa Stern)Tanya Attias (Credit: Noa Stern)
Medint researchers spoke with dozens of doctors, nurses, managers, technicians and interns in hospitals across the country and identified 10 key problem areas, the so-called 10 plagues.
They realized that the capsule method used to separate hospital staff and protect them is ineffective because it is virtually impossible, given the hectic nature of medical practice, especially during the crisis, for the professionals to stick to their capsules.
Astonishingly, it emerged that medical teams working with infected patients often do not receive proper protective equipment.
Constantly changing guidelines regarding disinfection of equipment confuse the staff and complicate their work, often unnecessarily, the researchers found.
The need to figure out which patients have respiratory issues and which have coronavirus causes delays in treating both and adds to stress and chaos in emergency rooms, especially when diagnosing children, the report said.
 The flood of information in the medical field, research and the epidemic make it difficult for the teams to make informed medical decisions in the field.
The medical staff does not receive adequate treatment for the trauma they suffer from their stressful work, and many suffer from anxiety, depression and post-trauma stress disorder.
The pandemic has led to a decline in the quality of training for medical students.
Patients have been reluctant to go to hospitals due to fear of becoming infected, and this has led to medical complications. The pandemic has also impacted treatment of cancer patients negatively in several ways, including the postponement of cancer screening tests and treatments.
Attias said a few findings surprised her as she worked on the report. One was that the top complaint of coronavirus patients was that they get thirsty, and there is no one to bring them water.
“They can’t have their family there to bring them water, and there are not enough staff members to bring them anything to drink,” she said. “It could be solved by allowing volunteers to bring water to them.”
This would seem to be an easy solution to implement, Attias said, adding that she hopes Health Ministry officials will begin implementing the report’s suggestions as soon as possible to combat the rising COVID morbidity rates and to fight any future pandemics.
“The most important thing is to take into account all the conclusions in the report to prepare the health system for the next crisis,” Attias said.