One can barely read or tune into the news without encountering a reference to “the new normal.” I think the phrase started getting overused even before society fully accepted that the COVID mess was going to be a real thing.
This is hardly surprising; making predictions about what’s to come is human nature. Whether to appear wise or simply as an entertaining activity, akin to betting on an upcoming sports event.
Sometimes there’s a more pragmatic intent—whether to alter the outcome of what one is predicting or to influence others who stand to be impacted by it. For instance, convincing a bunch of stockholders that buying or selling is in their best interest...at which point their mass-action results in your financial gain. (Insert cynical reference to Congress here.)
When the matter at hand is as massive as this, with so many unknowable variables, it’s little more than guessing. Even if you happen to know all of the relevant details in your particular bailiwick, any number of outside influences stand ready to intrude and muck up your contingencies.
That doesn’t stop people from trying, of course, and it’s just as well. Thinking through all of the ways that things might ultimately settle should make you readier to hit the ground running once the new normal stands revealed. Or, at least to land somewhat gracefully—more like a cat, let’s say, than a water-balloon.
I, thus, find it a more useful exercise to think in terms of questions whose answers will be revealed in the coming months (or years), than to try to divine the answers themselves.
For instance, a “view from 10,000 feet” question: When might we start to see a “new normal?” As the viral curve flattens and declines, this spring or summer, and economies reopen? Or, will the reverberations of the past weeks continue to be a major disruption, like water sloshing around a pool after someone cannonballs in? Will there be a second wave of infections next autumn or winter? Annually?
Will “social distancing” be able to go away, or even relax? Say, during summertime if that turns out to be the annual lull? Or, will periodic nationwide shutdowns loom as a long-term necessary evil that cannot be predicted?
How will the businesses that make society function be able to survive if there are periods, predictable or otherwise, during which transactions will be drastically cut back, if allowed at all?
If there are to be intervals—predictable or otherwise—of forced reduction in volume, such as in radiology, can what we have considered “normal” fee-for-service models continue to be utilized? Whether a medical group bills directly for its services or provides coverage for a billing-entity, such as a hospital, if the revenue stream is based on each procedure or encounter, damming that off parches everyone who had been watered by that stream. Will it make more sense to negotiate coverage based on time-interval rather than volume-of-services rendered? Or, some sort of hybrid between the two?