Leavitt Partners Future Frame Series: Chronic Disease Prevention And Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought focus on the important balance of public health and healthcare to keep Americans healthy. Both systems have learned many lessons, with both major wins (such as advances made in the development of vaccines) as well as exposure of weaknesses (such as the underfunding of public health resources resulting in a breakdown of chronic disease prevention).

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, Leavitt Partners held a LinkedIn Live broadcast focused on the relationship between public health and health care delivery in chronic disease prevention featuring Andrew Croshaw and Bo Nemelka from Leavitt Partners, along with Marti Macchi, senior director of Programs at NACDD. They discussed the need to address health disparities, importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, and the role public health plays in helping prevent and manage chronic diseases.

The pandemic has specifically highlighted the importance of prevention and public health in managing population health. COVID’s disproportionate impact on people with underlying health conditions revealed weaknesses in our baseline healthcare system. The rapid shutdown required in the early months of COVID complicated chronic disease management, limiting the ability of individuals to follow through on their wellness visits and keep in touch with their healthcare providers when a health issue arises.

The mission of our public health system is to keep Americans healthy. The U.S. government’s investment in public health had already diminished over the past several decades and now the U.S. is scrambling to make sure we have enough resources to support the need as the pandemic continues. Public health is having to divide its scarce resources into both pandemic management as well as ensuring that people get their screenings and checkups to identify any necessary interventions to prevent more severe disease states. This puts us at risk for an overall sicker population after the pandemic is over.

Technology rose to the occasion and filled some of the gap in communication between patients and providers, but not for everyone. Technology has the promise of linking both public health and healthcare providers to better manage chronic disease through telehealth and data sharing. Pre-pandemic, telehealth was largely reserved for geographically hard-to-reach individuals, such as in rural communities. We believe the government support for payment reform to support expanded telehealth will continue post-pandemic to be able to reach other populations as well.

There are many opportunities to change the delivery of healthcare services and create greater incentives to prevent and better manage chronic diseases. Healthcare systems have to consider greater change including how boldly they move toward value-based payments to bring together different stakeholders around prevention.

The pandemic has also magnified the major health disparities the U.S. has long faced. As the U.S. considers fundamental changes to the payment and delivery system to reduce these disparities, it must also more seriously look at things such as:

  • Establishing nutritional security for food banks to ensure that the food being given provides the right nutritional value to recipients.
  • Creating safe places for individuals in all communities to be able to exercise.
  • Developing social connectedness between different community sectors as everyone has a role play and a stake in building a healthy community.

Public health can be critical partners to health care stakeholders in leveraging programs and systems to prevent and manage chronic diseases as well as address disparities in health by addressing needs such as:

  • Providing non-clinical services
  • Improving community surveillance (monitoring chronic disease, not just infectious disease)
  • Creating partnerships on a local and national level
  • Better utilizing community health workers and public health to help with things such as patient navigation and efficiently reaching out to more individuals within the community.

The opportunity of the COVID pandemic is to reveal the pressing need for multi-stakeholder collaboration to take action on what healthcare stakeholders have long discussed. Building a bridge between public health and healthcare delivery requires collaboration, more innovative ways to manage risk from federal and state programs, as well as pushing private payers to do more. We anticipate that all these factors will contribute to the acceleration of value-based care as the approach to bring all these parties to the table to improve outcomes.

To view a recording of our January 28, 2021 LinkedIn Live broadcast, click here. To learn more about our services for public health organizations, click here.

Our mission at Leavitt Partners is to advance value to make health care more affordable, sustainable, and effective. We invite community members and industry experts to join us in future dialogue on the healthcare climate. View our upcoming schedule of Future Frame discussions here and join us for our next broadcast on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 11:00 am ET on LinkedIn LiveAndrew Croshaw, Ryan Howells, and Eric Marshall will discuss the evolution of digital health and consumerism.