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How COVID-19 has transformed public policy and population health efforts

Telehealth, mental health and racial inequality issues have put a spotlight on how to address the needs of underserved populations.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Photo by d3sign/Getty ImagesPhoto by d3sign/Getty Images

The COVID-19 global pandemic has highlighted disparities in our healthcare system and is informing public policy decisions on everything from how the newly unemployed can gain access to health insurance to mental health needs – including those of physicians and nurses. It has also put the focus on funding for hospitals, access to telehealth, especially in underserved communities, and an equitable vaccine distribution.

This month, HIMSS Media looks at how public policy is influencing population health and what that means for the current public health emergency and beyond, as we begin to turn the corner.

Intermountain Healthcare enters partnership with the University of Utah on population health

Intermountain Healthcare building

Intermountain is financing a new university program that will teach practitioners to provide preemptive care.

GE researchers look to put COVID-19-detecting sensors in phones

EndeavorRx screenshot

GE Research has received a grant from the NIH to develop sensors that can be embedded into mobile devices to detect COVID-19 particles on their surfaces.

Akili to study EndeavorRx as a COVID-19 brain fog treatment

EndeavorRx screenshot

The digital therapeutic is designed to treat children ages 8 to 12 with ADHD, but the two studies announced this week will focus on an adult population.

VCI member orgs plan verifiable COVID-19 vaccine credentials next month

Patient in mask getting vaccine

More efficient staffing and mental health supports for staff will allow health systems to address pandemic-related workforce issues.

To tackle nurse and staff burnout, healthcare needs to staff efficiently and emphasize employee wellbeing

Depressed doctor

More efficient staffing and mental health supports for staff will allow health systems to address pandemic-related workforce issues.

Health literacy seen as an important tool in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Patient in mask receiving vaccine

Vaccine confidence is increasing, but more needs to be done to convince Americans to get their shots.

AstraZeneca working with Mass General on tech for heart failure, asthma

Patient using an inhaler

The organizations said the collaboration will use AstraZeneca's AMAZE disease management platform to deliver insights to clinically validate digital health solutions.

The data challenges of SDOH, and how to overcome them

Rahul Sharma, CEO of HSBlox

Rahul Sharma, CEO of HSBlox, a social determinants of health-platform company, walks through the obstacles to healthcare fully leveraging SDOH and potential solutions.

Intermountain and its analytics subsidiary help manage value-based care

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah

At providers working closely with Castell, the cost of care for patients has decreased in a meaningful way, its chief analytics officer says.

AI technology detects 'ticking time bomb' arteries

Doctor looking at raidiology display

System which identifies patients at risk of fatal heart attack obtains CE mark.

Provider groups applaud President Biden's American Jobs Plan

President Joe Biden

The plan would spend $400 billion toward expanding access to home- or community-based care and improving the wages of caregivers.

England's personal child health records to be digitised by April 2023

Parent holding child in the air

Following a government review to reduce health inequalities for babies and children, the digitisation process has been brought forward a year.

FCC moves ahead with relaunch of COVID-19 telehealth program

Telehealth appointment

Round 2 contains a number of tweaks that seek to address disparities and distribute funding to more areas.

Senate passes moratorium to Medicare sequester cuts

US capitol building

The 2% cut to Medicare reimbursement is delayed through the end of the year, to the relief of hospital and physician groups.

AHIP, others applaud House bill focused on audio-only telehealth for Medicare Advantage

Doctor on the phone

The organization says seniors, during the pandemic, increasingly relied on telehealth to safely access their care.

Special Affordable Care Act enrollment period is extended to August 15

Screenshot of Healthcare.gov website

The additional tax credits reduce premiums by an average of $50 per person, per month and $85 per policy, per month.

Medicare for All push resurrected by U.S. House of Representatives

US Capitol building

Two Democratic senators say the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for national healthcare coverage.

Biden administration invests in expanding COVID-19 testing and treatments

President Joe Biden

States will get $12 billion to increase testing, and vulnerable populations will get $150 million for monoclonal antibody treatments.

MedPAC recommends the continuation of telehealth for a limited time

President Joe Biden

During a study period, Medicare should pay for specified telehealth services regardless of a provider's location, MedPAC says.

Biden announces national vaccine finder website, May 1 eligibility for all adults

President Biden addresses the American people.

The president promised rapid progress on vaccination in his first prime-time address to the American people.

New collaborative care model improves access to mental healthcare

Woman looking out of window

Penn Medicine's program uses a resource center to facilitate intake, triage and referral management.

New York State's hospital nurse staffing legislation predicted to save lives and money

Hospital workers in PPE treating patients

The cost of improving staffing would be offset by savings achieved through reducing readmissions and lengths of stay.

$250 million in COVID-19 grants aim to vaccinate underserved populations

Doctor talking to patient in mask

The money is expected to fund about 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities for two years.