Lately, I’ve been categorizing the world into three eras: BC, DC and AC. Before COVID, During Covid and After Covid.
It was challenging enough before the pandemic to operate health care and ensure affordable access for everyone. Now, we’re experiencing more pressure on multiple fronts.
I believe there are five environmental forces that are driving health care and all sectors of society to respond and transform like never before:
1. Biologic concerns - While we work through the current pandemic, we need to be cognizant that other viruses and communicable diseases are out there. It’s key to be ready for the next global outbreak.
2. The economic crisis - The weakened economy has exacerbated the gap between rich and poor. Increased unemployment will mean more of the people we serve will be uninsured or covered by government insurance. We’ll need to have the ability to continue caring for all in need regardless of ability to pay.
3. Social inequities - Recent events have shined a light on the racial and social disparities that exist in nearly every aspect of society, including health care. We have a responsibility to do our part and ensure everyone in our communities has an equal chance to live the healthiest life possible.
4. Climate change - The health of the planet has a profound effect on the health of communities, especially on those who are most poor and vulnerable. The recent wildfires are an example of the role of climate change and how it can have fatal consequences and affect even the quality of the air we breathe.
5. Political polarization - The nation is divided politically with ideologies stretching to both ends of the spectrum. Health care is one of the key issues at the center of the debate. We must anchor into our values as a democracy and find ways to listen to one another and meet in the middle. Otherwise, our most vulnerable members of society will be most impacted.
Although each of these five areas bring tremendous challenge, they also present incredible opportunity. By addressing these issues head on, with innovation and compassion, our communities will emerge from the greatest crisis of our lifetime resilient and transformed.