Our Stronger Together: Applying Lessons from 2020 to Create a Better Path Forward event brought forward an abundance of insight from our expert panel who are all committed to helping Americans through the pandemic and are looking ahead to new possibilities in 2021. We not only covered important policy actions in the short and longer term as it relates to COVID-19, but also took a deep dive into the continued need to increase testing, and the need to address vaccination, particularly for the most vulnerable. We also explored how the pandemic is changing payment and care delivery. The conversation was overlaid with a strong equity lens highlighting that in every aspect of our path forward we need to embrace “equity as an outcome and a process.”
Noteworthy insights from the expert panel (and these are just a few of the many):
- We cannot get complacent; we need to dig deeper into our reserves, continuing to mask, distance, and avoid social gatherings.
- We must learn how to listen to each other with more grace and forbearance. It is going to be critical to getting us out of this mess.
- Just wait and see what happens with the “tsunami” of homeless patients. We need to advocate for law makers to increase support for rent and eviction control – this is critical!
- Public health moves at the speed of trust. Prioritize trusted community workers along with healthcare by supporting the Health Force and Resilience Force Act of 2020. This way we can recruit, train, and deploy community health workers to work alongside and amplify healthcare and public health efforts.
- The American people need to hold their representatives accountable.
- The first legislative priorities in 2021 will be to build on what happens, or respond to what does not happen, during the lame duck session.
- The death rate for COVID-19 in Black, Indigenous, and Latino Americans is three times that of white Americans, for reasons we are all aware of, but need to be able to name clearly to truly address health equity and the trust gap.
On testing and vaccination:
- Test, test, test! Testing is knowledge, knowledge gives you power.
- We should have had an Operation Warp Speed for testing. We also need to better staff the FDA to get EUAs approved. The FDA needs to prioritize testing products based on ability to produce large volumes of tests.
- We need to acknowledge that testing is not over. We need a national dashboard that shows turnaround time for tests, and we need overhaul our reporting system- tests are being counted differently (i.e., do you count by # of tests or by the individual person being tested).
- RNA vaccines have been developed at unprecedented speeds; while the speed has raised concerns, we need to trust the science and learn from it to respond quickly to future pandemics.
- What can we take from this moment to invest in the common good? How do we build trust among minority populations who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19?
- By March 2021, at-home testing should be available, and eventually, resemble an HIV test or pregnancy test.
On care delivery:
- We have the opportunity to create a more human-centered health system. We have made the unseen seen. We all now have the obligation, the calling, and the opportunity to do work to make healthcare more equitable.
- Primary care services are still down in terms of utilization, for example, we are seeing less vaccinations and screenings.
- How can we start to develop models to create pathways to value based payment? How do we link payment to larger population, community, and place-based efforts? For example, not just providing food for one patient, but addressing food desserts for entire communities.
On critical need for collaboration:
- There are great examples of regional collaborations, like NRHI, to build on. Dr. Mark McClellan says, “Let’s do it.”
- It is remarkable how a collaborative effort has advanced this (the vaccine) so quickly!
- We need to get away from demonizing stakeholders like the private sector and the government. At the end of the day, the collaboration is what is going to get us through this.
Access the webinar resources:
- Meet the panelists:
- Collaboratives in Action: Responding to COVID-19 webinars and resources:
- Off-Site COVID-19 Testing Project Hub
- Off-Site COVID-19 Testing Toolkit
- National Community-Based Workforce Alliance
- HealthBegins Community Based Workforce Principles
- Vaccine hesitancy
- Duke-Margolis Health Care Response and Resilience Program