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  • Writer's pictureSAKS Health

COVID-19 Pandemic Takeaways for 3 Relevant Stakeholders

COVID-19 Pandemic Takeaways for 3 Relevant Stakeholders

Recently, we marked the four year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker, COVID-19 has resulted in about 6.9 million hospitalizations and nearly 1.2 million deaths in the US since a national emergency was declared on March 13, 2020. This pandemic is such a big topic it can be hard to get your arms around it. But now that we are a bit removed from the crisis, and COVID-19 is becoming “just” another virus to manage, let’s consider some key takeaways from a few relevant stakeholders.

  • Patients. The collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic has had huge impacts on patients across the United States, and society at large. The approximately 1.2 million people who lost their lives to the coronavirus have left a deep hole in the hearts of those they left behind. Patients found themselves navigating a complex healthcare system dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, including forgoing routine medical care. As people adjusted their lives to the new reality by working and schooling from home and dealing with increased levels of isolation, some were affected by widespread job losses and financial strains. Others suffered from a surge in serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, the fallout of which continues today. Although public health measures, such as masking and vaccines, were very successful in saving many lives, they were met with suspicion from some segments, and led to widening fault lines in communities. Finally, many patients today are continuing to suffer from the ongoing effects of COVID-19. A recent article in US News & World Report noted that more than 17% of adults in the US reported often devastating symptoms of long COVID. 

  • Pharma. Amidst the panic of the early days of the pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry committed itself to fighting COVID-19 by developing solutions to diagnose and treat those impacted by the coronavirus. According to a report from PhRMA, the US pharmaceutical trade group, the industry was able to leverage its scientific knowledge derived from decades of investment and experience with viruses such as Zika, MERS, and SARS. Advances in mRNA treatment engineering helped overcome challenges around developing and quickly bringing to market safe and effective mRNA vaccines. The pharmaceutical industry, which is a key part of a robust research and development ecosystem, helped lead the world’s response to the pandemic. It used its scientific and industrial expertise to take risks necessary to develop vaccines and treatments that prevented millions of infections and unnecessary deaths. It also leveraged partnerships with national and international stakeholders to refine and manufacture products at an unprecedented scale and timeline. Four years in, we can all benefit from the diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments that have tamed the pandemic into a relatively manageable condition.

  • Health insurers. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the US health insurance industry. The need to cover diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19, along with the deferment of other routine care and procedures, caused disruptions that will impact the industry for years to come. According to a May 2021 article by McClellan, et al published in the National Academy of Medicine, payers initially experienced cost reductions, but then were met with increased expenses due to the volume of COVID-19 patients and the restarting of routine health services. Although the Federal Government initially covered expenses for the (very successful) COVID-19 vaccinations, this cost was eventually transitioned to health insurers. Telemedicine emerged as a lifeline and helped fill some gaps in the delivery of care, but was not entirely effective at replacing in-person care. Data about patients and their care has become increasingly important to insurers and their customers. Large employers are increasingly looking to health insurers to leverage employee and patient data to improve overall health. As an industry that relies heavily on risk assessment and forecasting, the wildly unpredictable nature of the pandemic has caused challenges for health insurance companies around pricing, operations, and enrollment. Over time, the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic will help this critical industry learn and prepare for any future disruptions.

As we continue to grapple with the aftermath of the pandemic, it is important to understand how COVID-19 has affected key stakeholders so that we can make our healthcare system more resilient and equitable for all Americans, and contribute to Better Healthcare Tomorrow.



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