Every day new insights emerge, guiding our constantly evolving response to the COVID-19 crisis. A great deal of forward-thinking has been required to predict the effects on our most vulnerable populations. A particular challenge in the COVID-19 response has been creating a system wherein vaccines are readily available to our society without compromising equity. Some of the top minds in the healthcare industry recently gathered to discuss these issues.
American Health Insurance Plan’s National Health Policy Conference featured leaders including Dr. Bechara Choucair, Vaccinations Coordinator of the White House COVID Response Team, Dr. Robert Gluckman, CMO of Providence Health Plan, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, and Dr. William Shrank, Chief Medical and Corporate Affairs Officer of Humana. Each participant on this panel brought unique insights to the conversation in order to communicate a cohesive plan for the months to follow.
Dr. Choucair opened the discussion with a brief overview of the national vaccination strategy by declaring three domains that must be of primary focus: (1) Vaccine supply, (2) Vaccinators across the country, and (3) Vaccine administration sites – which has recently been the top priority. Dr. Messonnier provided further hope in bringing the pandemic to end by highlighting the safety and effectiveness of the three FDA-approved vaccines. Despite the various channels that are becoming increasingly available, problems still exist within the vaccination pipeline.
Many gaps in the national vaccination effort create a system at risk of compromising health equity, so Humana has aimed to repair the fragmented system, filling the gaps. Dr. Shrank was quick to point out that Humana has taken an approach that centers around each member, as proactive outreach and education has been the foundation of the response, “We’ve spent a lot of time making proactive calls and asking our members about the very personal challenges they’ve been experiencing throughout the pandemic. Whether its health-related social needs, like food insecurity, social isolation, access to their healthcare provider, leveraging telehealth, or care in the home; we’ve tried as hard as we really can to stay close to our members, and understand them.” Understanding individual health-related social needs is key to achieving a sustainable vaccine rollout while highlighting health equity as a critical priority.
The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) summarizes the discussion well in their recent article title, Private-Public Aim to Tackle COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity, Distribution, Disparities.