HCFI Getting Back-to-School

Posted in Blog

October 18, 2021

Gearing Up GU’s Health Care Financing Initiative for Fall “Back to School”

By Carol Davis, PhD, MBA

One month into the new school year, I’m filled with anticipation and excitement. I joined the faculty of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy as an assistant research professor in January, while the campus was closed. Along with students (including my own kids) and faculty everywhere, I’ve been eager to get back to campus and back to work in a fulsome way. I’m happy to report many signs of revival, albeit cautiously so. 

I’ve spent the past nine months acclimating to my new job in this new research and teaching environment, trying to make sense of this pandemic and what it’s doing to our healthcare system.  With my background in health care consulting and delivery system operations, my instinct is to deconstruct the processes by which decisions get made and to take a systems view of the shock and outcomes of COVID-19 on so many levels and aspects of society.  This past year has been a super-mega stress test compelling us to reevaluate countless elements of how we organize, deliver, manage, and pay for healthcare and health as a society.  I’m spending the fall synthesizing what we’ve learned and how I think it should drive our research agenda in the coming year.

Since joining the GU McCourt School Public Policy Research Centers in January, I’ve served as associate director of the Health Care Financing Initiative, this small research center, managing our publications and research pipeline. We have assembled a small, but impactful collection of research studies and essays on observations and analyses about the challenges and imperatives COVID-19 has imposed on the delivery and financing of health care. Our collection is focused on the impact of COVID-19 specifically through the lens of the post-acute sectors of the health care continuum.

We believe the lessons and insights should resonate beyond the post-acute sector, extending to questions of the overall health care and delivery system response, whether our payment and measurement systems are robust enough for the level of uncertainty we’ve seen, and whether the boundaries between individual health care transactions and the effective functioning of a comprehensive, delivery system organism are properly drawn right now.

We’re still in the observing and synthesizing stage, but I have an evolving list of big, complex issues that are guiding plans for 2022: 

  • The ascendency of the essential health care worker as a vital strategic asset in America’s diverse health care system
  • System learning to incorporate evolving demands on the health care delivery system from new diseases
  • Reconsidering the boundary between institutional care settings and health delivery virtually and/or at home–the latter of which many patients prefer—and the challenges such a shift present
  • Operationalizing the health sectors’ role in improving the social determinants of access to care, health equity, the financial burden of health.

We’ll need robust data and analyses to break down, explore, and address these complicated issues, but perhaps most importantly, the questions that arise require an articulation of values and priorities not always elegantly measured by traditional tools of economics and policy study. We hope to spark thoughtful discussions  through our research, and at events such as our upcoming conversation with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Blum. 

We are eager to dive in. As I finish curating books to line shelves in my new office, and plan the future together with my colleagues, I’m excited for this opportunity. Time to get “back to school” and down to work! …and Go, Hoyas!

Share your own ideas and follow our progress on Twitter at @GUHealthFinance or my feed at @CBarnettDavis.

Dr. Davis is an Assistant Research Professor at McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University.