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Jonah SchutzmanAs the world mobilizes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, one thing is clear: the outbreak underscores the need for all companies (especially healthcare) to be resilient, prepared and forward thinking — qualities that will be in great demand long after public health has been restored.

On March 13, the President declared a state of emergency in his address to the nation. With him were a select group of core and emerging healthcare leaders, including the CEOs of Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Roche, Signify Health, LHC Group, and Becton, Dickinson and Company (collectively, the “Private Sector Taskforce”).

The creation of this Private Sector Taskforce, and the strategy to fight the outbreak, brings to light many parallel and intertwined healthcare themes including (i) the power of prevention and early detection/intervention, (ii) the need for access to care in a cost-effective manner, and (iii) innovative care models.

The power of prevention and early detection/intervention

Roche, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Beckton, Dickinson and Company, in coordination with LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, are tasked to develop and manufacture (in large quantities) lab testing kits. Their main task will be hyper-focused on speed and accuracy, both on manufacturing and lab processing, so that new cases can quickly be identified and proper clinical treatment protocols can be followed. Because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, the importance of this institutional “prevention and detection” cohort will be significant as the U.S. (and the world) continues this battle.

The need for access to care in a cost-effective manner

The second part to the COVID-19 equation is “access to care.” The selection of the following companies on the Private Sector Taskforce provide just that. Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS are core retailers to many communities around the nation and have offered their brick-and-mortar infrastructure to provide drive-through testing centers throughout the U.S. Not generally known for healthcare services, these retail giants have grown significantly as consumers demand ease of access, cost effectiveness, shorter wait times, and flexible visiting hours. The emergence of retail clinics is especially important for many suburban and rural citizens, who often encounter barriers to basic healthcare services that are not readily available in a timely manner. The combination of this group’s vast network of brick-and-mortar locations (which is over 25,000 strong), many of which are typically visited by the average U.S. consumer, will provide much-needed access to COVID-19 tests.

Innovative care models

Lastly, the other participants in the Private Sector Taskforce are Signify Health and LHC Group. Not likely known to the general public, these two companies are innovators in providing in-home healthcare services. Signify Health (backed by New Mountain Capital) deploys an intelligent technology platform and a nationwide network of physicians and nurses into the home and facility settings. Their innovative model closes the gap in care and documentation for high-risk patients, which increases data accuracy and engages members in ongoing care in their place of residence. LHC Group is a leading national provider of in-home healthcare services with 32,000 employees operating in 35 states and the ability to reach 60% of the U.S. population aged 65 and older.

In a fight against COVID-19 that will continue to ferociously target the elderly population, these innovative care models from Signify Health and LHC Group can effectively reach, test, and treat our high-risk elderly population on a massive scale.

Conclusion

Disasters and pandemics pose unique challenges to our healthcare delivery system.  In order to address these challenges effectively, we must collaborate and innovate. As we will no doubt see increased cases in the U.S., the Private Sector Taskforce, along with American resiliency, will band together to combat this challenge. Most importantly, we will have learned and established the need for delivering care in new ways that will build stronger and more resilient communities.