Reevaluating, Reimagining, And Reinventing Healthcare: Innovation In A Post-Pandemic World (Forbes)

FORBES | Since its onset, COVID-19 has been the focal point of recent healthcare innovation and advancement. Though the past couple of years have been filled with innumerable advancements of health technologies, much opportunity for reevaluating, reimagining, and reinventing the future of healthcare remains. The next two years will set the scope for what is to come.

As our world successfully transitions from a pandemic to endemic stage, the landscape of healthcare innovation is wide-open for disruption, as health, wellness, and healthcare are taken more fundamentally into the digital age. Advancing technology will be the vigorous driver behind a much needed refocusing of healthcare delivery to put the patient experience and navigation of health services back where it belongs front and center.

What we can expect—at least in the near-term future—is more digital transformation, more cloud, more integration, more automation, and overall a more coherent, consistent, and comprehensive delivery of healthcare.

Though the endless number of possibilities are inspiring, here are six areas where I foresee the most disruption occurring:

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Congress should create a national board on pandemic preparedness (The Hill)

THE HILL | As we approach the frightening, chilling milestone of nearly 1 million dead from COVID-19, it should go without question that preventing this loss of life again should be a top priority of our United States Congress, regardless of party affiliation.   

The recent release of a discussion draft of the bipartisan Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act) is a significant step forward toward enhancing our nation’s security. We applaud Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for putting forth critical policies that would strengthen federal and state preparedness, improve our response capacity through data systems modernization, accelerate research and countermeasure discovery, modernize the supply chain for vital medical products, and enhance development and combat shortages of medical products. 

While the PREVENT Pandemics Act proposes a short-term task force to examine the initial emergence of the pandemic and the nation’s response, we also believe that the legislation should include a permanent oversight mechanism so that the United States is equipped to respond to future threats. There is currently no congressionally chartered body for evaluating the state of America’s pandemic preparedness system, leaving the nation vulnerable to a suboptimal response to public health emergencies and future pandemics. For this reason, we and our colleagues on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Future of Health Task Force call on Congress to create a national board on pandemic preparedness. The independent board would establish a set of metrics and benchmarks for evaluation of federal and state pandemic preparedness capacity and capability; gauge how the nation is faring against these metrics; and develop an annual report to Congress on the state of pandemic preparedness with specific recommendations.  

The board should consider some broad thematic areas while developing metrics including, nonpharmaceutical and pharmaceutical mitigation measures; public health, emergency management, and health care system coordination; equity in emergency response planning; exercising of response plans; standardized data collection and reporting along with data privacy and security standards; real-time surveillance and systems; vaccination infrastructure, distribution and uptake; and, stockpiling and supply chain resiliency. Throughout the metric development process, Congress should require that the board consult with stakeholders, including relevant federal agencies, private sector organizations, and subject matter experts.  

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“A Storm For Which We Are Entirely Unprepared …”: A 2005 Pandemic Prophecy & Call For A “Manhattan Project” For The 21st Century (Forbes)

FORBES | Two years ago this week, the United States declared a public health emergency in response to what was then being referred to as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, now widely known to all as COVID-19. Few envisioned how all-encompassing and destructive this virus would become. Few would have believed that two years later, it would have led to nearly 900,000 deaths in the United States, with thousands more still suffering the effects of long COVID, as well as the devastating financial repercussions the pandemic has sowed.

Yet, it was predicted. A coming pandemic was certain. Tragically, it was not adequately prepared for. And now as we continue to recover and slowly enter a stage of endemicity, we must increase our resolve to prepare for the next pandemic — for there will be another.  

Seventeen years ago, I, serving then as Majority Leader of the United States Senate and one of the few physician-scientists in Congress, wrote a formal Declaration to serve as the foundation for a nationwide call-to-action to what I and a few others saw as the inevitability of a coming catastrophic pandemic that would cause massive loss of life and destruction of livelihood: “But we will not be able to sleep through what is likely coming soon — a front of unchecked and virulent epidemics, the potential of which should rise above your every other concern.”

The Declaration, which I share in its entirety below, was the substance of a speech which I repeatedly delivered over the course of a year across the country in multiple venues, from large outdoor settings in San Francisco to the National Press Club in Washington, DC to the lecture halls at Harvard. The mission was urgent — to warn we were not prepared for what we would have to face and to lay out a proposal that would “dwarf the Manhattan Project.”  We knew that if left unprepared we would face a global pandemic that would devastate our economy, our livelihoods, our health systems, our way of life. We did not prepare.

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A Call For Data Equity: Using Pandemic Data Mishaps To Improve Health Outcomes (Forbes)

FORBES | Where we live determines how long we live. Read that again.

Health disparities, in large part, are determined by where we live. In Nashville—a city that prides itself on being a renowned healthcare hub—life expectancy increases 5 years by moving to the neighboring Williamson County. Similar patterns hold true in other cities all over the U.S.

For those of us in public health, this unfortunate reality is not surprising. Structural racism—the category of racism that stems from the very infrastructure of our communities—has long determined unjust resource allocation. Inequitable access to things like quality education, nutritional foods, and healthcare services can lead to poorer health outcomes.

Connecting the dots, it’s easy to see how ZIP code can be more predictive of health than genetic code.

Health disparities, especially those stemming from the location of our homes, were only heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, ZIP code determined access to testing sites, personal protective equipment, and vaccine availability.

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