New GU Health Care Financing Initiative Blog Seeks “Perspectives” on Health Care Financing, Access, and Delivery
August 2, 2021
Few people could point to a more urgent time in modern history for thought leadership and idea-sharing on health care, its access, and the financial systems that support it all. The COVID-19 pandemic has blown aside myriad scientific, economic, academic, and research norms under the weight of a global emergency that has killed millions.
The health care community responded with previously inconceivable speed to implement emergency funding, regulation, treatment and vaccine development, emergency supply and personnel distribution systems. Research publication protocols in health journals were fast-tracked or temporarily set aside so analyses of even the smallest data sets of studies and trials could be shared worldwide in the hope of immediate clinical application or breakthroughs. Meanwhile, health care delivery systems temporarily transformed, with telehealth emerging as a vital technology innovation that forced health care providers and patients from offices to homes and onto screens. As a result, lives were—and continue to be—saved, although the virus and its variants are still inflicting catastrophic tolls on many nations.
It has been 16 months since everything except services deemed essential ground to a halt. As of August 1, 2021, 58% of Americans aged 12 and above are fully vaccinated, we are reluctantly learning to live with the coronavirus. Even as COVID-19 mutations continue to vex communities where vaccine penetration levels are lower, we are slowing beginning to fashion our new, hopefully wiser, “Normal”. America’s health care system was an acknowledged tangle long prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 sharpened the spotlight on many preexisting gaps and limitations, especially the disparate health factors within minority populations and inadequacies of service systems for rural and home-bound populations and families in communities of low resources.
Many who recovered from COVID now suffer long-term effects ranging from respiratory, cardiovascular, or neurological damage to chronic fatigue. We are still discovering how their health may be forever compromised. Who will bear the lingering costs of their medical care and the other economic and social costs directly caused or made visible by the pandemic? There’s a lot to talk about on this health care front alone.
Unsurprisingly, stakeholders from legislators to insurers to hospital administrators are asking, “What are the patient impacts and financial implications of the past year? Which emergency practices should we keep in place? Which practices that we abandoned for the past year should we permanently retire? Which of our healthcare resources and personnel can we deploy more effectively than before? Who else – patients, workers, communities – must be better served as we go forward?
Birth of a Blog
Before the pandemic, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy was already seeking ways to leverage its policy expertise to accelerate improvements in health care at affordable costs and with wider public access and impact.
In June 2018, we received funding from the nonprofit Institute for Critical Care (ICCF), a private foundation that promotes academic research about the delivery of health care to critically ill or injured patients. The support enabled the McCourt School to create the Health Care Financing Initiative (HCFI) to foster research and pursue solution-focused innovations related to health care access and financing through a policy lens.
Our initiative is also seeking to engage Georgetown University students and faculty, policy makers, industry leaders, health care providers, financial professionals, and researchers around these important issues.
While much work has been ongoing in the three years since its founding, HCFI with its small staff achieved a key goal in May 2021: a revamped website (www.hcfi.georgetown.edu) to better distribute commentary, news, and research and promote educational events about health care finance, delivery, and access.
In addition to a “Featured Publications” section for research articles and white papers, the site will offer a “Spotlight” page with interactive maps, infographics, and other data visualizations.
Perspectives: The HCFI Blog, launching here in August 2021, will serve as the site’s conversation center—an informal meetup spot for the health care finance community and its stakeholders to share timely commentary on issues of importance, especially those with public policy implications. We plan to publish original, first-person posts each month and to spark discussion via our Twitter feed, @GUhealthfinance. We hope to publish multiple essays each month, and also to extend the online conversations to our in-person scholarly and policy events as soon as the Fall of 2021.
Topics of special interest for 2021 include
- Health care payment reforms;
- Public policy for equitable access to high-value, specialized care or post-acute services;
- The incidence and financial burden of health care costs; and
- Long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have high hopes that this blog and website can boost progress toward practical, innovative policy solutions for health care access, quality, delivery, and financial systems. However, these outlets require the generous contributions of thoughtful content to ensure they comprise a robust forum for feedback, debate, insights for action.
We invite you to join our efforts by reading the blog guidelines and sharing your insights.
Please direct questions on Perspectives: The HCFI Blog and website. to Dr. Carol Davis, Carol.Davis@georgetown.edu.
Authors: Carol Davis, PhD, MBA, is HCFI Associate Director of Research and Publications and an Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Thomas DeLeire, PhD, is HCFI Director and a Professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
KEYWORDS: health care, health care finance, health care delivery, health care access, health services research, health, acute care, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University, ICCF, Institute for Critical Care, health care costs, financial burden of healthcare.