The Year in Review – And Lasting Changes for Our Industry
Put a fork in it, because 2020 is done. But do it standing six feet away and wearing a mask. After, wash your hands.
The year started off ominously enough for me on a personal level. Because I’ve gratefully been in this wonderful field for a couple of decades, I’ve always appreciated the professionals in the lab and the work they do. Yet that gratitude went to a whole new level when I went from being a consultant, to a patient awaiting lab results for cancer. And as I went through the process of fighting it and fortunately getting through it, my respect and admiration for all those in the medical profession went higher – which I did not think was possible.
It would not be the first 2020 thing that would alter my perspective.
COVID-19. Like most of us, we found ourselves homebound. A large part of U.S. HealthTek’s ability to be flexible and offer value to our clients is augmented by the way we’ve structured the company – which includes running the company sans office with all employees working from home since our inception. But what did affect us was when all the professional conferences were cancelled. A lifeblood of most trade industries, not being able to meet old and new colleagues and exchange ideas was something that was missed on many levels. Immediately we took a hard look at how we could grow our business without these events and what seemed bad ended up being good; we found new ways to stay well-informed about our industry’s constantly changing environment and to identify new opportunities. While we look forward to getting together in person again, I’m predicting that how we communicate and do business will forever change in the sense that we’ll have more “tools in the toolbox.” (Hint: if you have stock in Zoom, keep it; it’s not going away.) I have heard from other companies that the cutbacks in watercooler conversations, networking/sales opportunities, and other avenues that so many rely on – especially small businesses – have made work more challenging. I think we’re finding ways around it all.
Another big surprise is that we find ourselves busier than ever at this point in time. I think one of the most positive things that will come out of the pandemic is that it has challenged everyone to figure out how to run their business differently. In addition to the mask mandates, businesses big and small were doing temperature screenings — I was temp screened in August when going into a Sephora! (For those not in the know, that’s a personal care and beauty products store.) The “drive-thru” concept spread to places beyond fast-food, and finally entered our industry in the form of drive-thru lab testing.
In addition to virtual business meetings, there were virtual physician visits. Also, the industry certainly saw more start-ups than ever before. As reported at Fierce Healthcare, health startups that focus on virtual care are getting an injection of cash from investors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has forced most of us to think outside the box, and to be flexible and adaptable to major changes. Ultimately, it has forced us to be better at what we do and to embrace new ways of getting things done. Much of this will stay with us beyond mass vaccinations.
Other personal achievements that were helped by the extra time in the spring is that Bryan’s apiary increased to three hives, all of which made for his most successful beekeeping year yet. Heck, we were even able to give out some honey to friends. The lack of travel had many pluses — time spent in the kitchen with the kids (who are now spread from Vancouver, CA to Florida), walks in total quiet (no vehicle noise at all!), discovering new recipes (check out The Chef Show – Fried Bologna Sandwiches – YUM!!!), reaping the rewards from a well-tended garden (usually planted with great intentions but ending up dry and neglected) and finishing many projects around the house that we never had the time to do.
But I end the year as I started it – thankful and proud to be part of the healthcare community and our client/friend base for all they do, especially under these historic circumstances. The commitment to meeting the challenges we all face by developing specific testing to assist in the identification, tracing, and treatment of COVID has been inspiring. I know that the “old normal” will never come back 100 percent, and there are a lot of questions about what will happen in 2021, but I am grateful I’m here and that I get to discover it with you.