Just over 100 years ago, an especially virulent influenza ignited a cataclysmic pandemic that killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million people around the world. The pandemic of 1918 also ushered in new ways of understanding and delivering health care. Advances that followed the pandemic included a national disease reporting system, employer-based health insurance, infection control policies, international cooperation on health, and a reevaluation of government’s role in preventing and treating illness.
Today we stand at a similar moment to create a new way forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have opportunities and momentum now to create a stronger health care system that works better for everyone. To make that happen, and with a focus on our own state, BioNJ and the Quality Institute partnered to bring together experts from all sectors of our health care system to form the COVID-19 Work Group, which created “Emerging From COVID-19: An Action Plan for a Healthier State.”
The Action Plan outlines 24 consensus-based recommendations, which fall into four areas of greatest need:
- Building, supporting, and expanding a diverse health care workforce.
- Expanding new models of care and payment — with an emphasis on changes to telehealth, primary care, and long-term care.
- Addressing Social Determinants of Health to achieve greater health equity.
- Redesigning and investing in our public health infrastructure.
I hope you will read and share the Action Plan, which focuses on our state, but has implications beyond our borders. The focus is not only on government. Change can be driven by the private sector as well. State government does not have the capacity to fix everything. But we do need government leadership to align strategies and investment. We entered the pandemic with a flawed health care system. We cannot emerge from pandemic with the same flawed system. All of us together can create a new path forward.