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COVID-19 lessons: VUMC, other hospital leaders pinpoint opportunities in National Academy Review

Apr. 7, 2021, 10:13 AM


by Holly Fletcher

The versatility of health systems in the national COVID-19 response underscore the challenges and opportunities for leaders to strengthen and design systems to better care for communities and respond to ever-changing needs, top health care delivery system leaders outline in a discussion paper for the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Health systems responded to COVID-19 with an array of services by deploying their workforce into adapted spaces and partnering with community organizations and public health agencies while coordinating with peers to provide contact tracing, testing and vaccinations, write six national hospital leaders in the second of nine papers in the Emerging Stronger After COVID-19: Priorities for Health System Transformation initiative.

Real-time adaptations to urgent logistical constraints demonstrated how health delivery systems can benefit from a number of capacity-building initiatives, from strengthening supply chains to workforce development and strategies for improving health equity.

“The work of health system leaders is ongoing. As we begin to assess where we’ve been, and even as we continue efforts to push back against the virus, our response to COVID-19 is an opportunity to take stock of what is working and adjust our strategies for the growing challenges of the 21st century. The pandemic has stressed all elements of the nation’s health system, and we’ve seen how stronger bridges between the care delivery sector and other sectors, from public health to health payers and product manufacturers, can improve health for all — in good times and bad,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Balser’s coauthors include Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Geisinger; Michelle Hood, MHA, Executive Vice President and COO of American Hospital Association; Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System; Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, President, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer HCA Healthcare; and Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, President and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals.

The two sector reviews on care systems and public health released today are initial publications from experts across the U.S. as part of the NAM’s Emerging Stronger After COVID-19: Priorities for Health System Transformation Initiative. Additional papers will be published in the coming months; all nine papers will be bundled and released as a NAM Special Publication in fall 2021.

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