Recent news reports indicate that the Ebola crisis is almost over. There remain some very serious threats and infections, including that of these workers for Partners in Health. And, of course, completely erradicating the disease is likely impossible. That said, the last known Ebola patient was released from a hospital in Liberia (the original epicenter of the epidemic) 13 days ago. And 7 days ago, the WHO and UN indicated that the entire outbreak could be over by the summer.
The World Health Organization, as quoted by the New York Times, said: "The Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives over the past 15 months could be halted by the summer, but only if international financial support is sustained."
It has been a devastating crisis that has taken a terrible toll -- and infections and deaths do continue. But, to be sure, it could have been much, much worse. Early statements by infectious disease experts demonstrated that this crisis, and this disease, are among the worse (or at least had the potential to be so) in humankind's experience.
So with the end of the Ebola crisis in sight -- something that seemed impossible just a few months ago -- we gather some key lessons for managed care, hospital systems, ACOs, and every medical provider:
- Celebrate wins. So much attention was paid at the start of the crisis, but now that human ingenuity, hard work, and collaboration have led to near elimination of the crisis, you can barely find news stories about it. This is a destructive cycle. We've found that the most successful hospital systems respond in a crisis -- but also celebrate when things have gone right.
- Develop resources and systems to support the long fight. As the WHO and UN share, success is within reach, but only if funding and resources continue all the way to the end of the fight. Whether it's implementing a telemedicine system or treating a single patient, good care necessitates seeing the work through to the end. (And sometimes this means long past the point of discharge.)
- Collaborate. The battle against the Ebola crisis showed collaboration across sectors, across geography, and at all points on the spectrum of care. An extraordinary outcome was achieved in this case, and we believe that it is because of the collaboration of many, not the insight of the few.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the men and women, government officials and healthcare providers, families and patients who worked and fought to get to this point. And may we all contribute to seeing this through to the end.
For other stories of medical collaboration from around the world and across sectors, get our Quick Guide to medical collaboration: