How COVID-19 Changed the Healthwise Model—and the Future of Health Care

Adam Husney, MD, Healthwise CEO


In March 2020, Healthwise was one of the first companies in the region to close its offices and switch to a remote model for the safety of its employees and the community. Soon after, while creating some of their first COVID-19 health education, they made the decision to share it for free with anyone who needed it. We sat down with Dr. Adam Husney, Healthwise’s CEO, to learn more about how the company responded so quickly in the face of a public health crisis, and to hear what’s next in the healthcare industry.

How did Healthwise respond to the coronavirus pandemic so quickly? Did COVID-19 help us create processes that will let us respond faster to emergencies in the future?

We responded quickly by highlighting the imperative, creating focus, and allowing teams to find the best solution. Some of the content production was less complicated than other Healthwise topics because there was a limited amount of evidence-based material to draw from. The need for rapid-release health education has helped Healthwise think not only about how to create the multimedia content consumers need, but also about how we can best deliver it wherever clients and consumers need it.

Why did Healthwise decide to make its COVID-19 content available to everyone for free?

The Healthwise mission is to help people make better health decisions so they can live their healthiest lives. COVID-19 presented Healthwise with the opportunity to share in the massive effort to educate the public. We saw front-line workers putting in extraordinary hours, putting themselves at significant risk. There was so much misinformation and mixed messaging, but we knew Healthwise could help dispel the myths and stay abreast of the rapidly evolving science. We felt a responsibility to be part of the global effort to inform people and help save lives.

How has COVID-19 changed the day-to-day operations at Healthwise? How will it change operations going forward?

Healthwise moved quickly to a virtual office, and this transition was relatively seamless. It seems clear that the pandemic will likely change the in-person workplace, and we are now thinking about how Healthwise will adjust moving forward. It’s likely that more people will work remotely full time. This frees us to recruit new talent with fewer geographical limitations. However, the culture of our organization has always depended on human interaction, and we believe that many people will choose to spend much of their time in the office, with some flexibility to work remotely a few days per week.

[Editor’s note: As a dog-friendly workplace, Healthwise also depends on canine interaction! Check out the latest Healthwise Hounds Zoom meeting.]

What long-term changes will the pandemic have on the healthcare industry?

The explosive growth of telehealth and virtual health has demonstrated the viability and practicality of this type of care in ways we couldn’t have imagined prior to the pandemic. These aren’t just fallback options for care—it’s now clear that digital health programs are preferable in many situations.

The pandemic has also exposed inequities in care. This disease has disproportionately affected people of color. And the vaccination effort has favored more privileged groups, further highlighting these inequities. Ensuring vaccination for everyone, regardless of insurance or ability to pay, is a good public health measure. However, it has also brought to light many of the difficulties in care where people might forgo prevention or treatment because of an inability to pay. Understanding these issues will allow us to look at our healthcare system to understand where it works best and where it needs improvement.