WASHINGTON – An individually-authored discussion paper was published in NAM Perspectives today that focuses on the experience and needs of patients, families, and communities, was published on November 29, 2021. Patients, Families, and Communities COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs reviews the impact and implications of COVID-19 on patients, families, and communities, offers perspectives on the health system’s failures and opportunities for change, and elevates the direct experiences of patients, families, and communities in their own words.

“Patients, families, and communities are the foundation of the entire health and health care system,” said Frederick Isasi, executive director, Families USA, one of the paper’s co-leads. “Every health care CEO, clinician, and public health worker is also a patient, part of a family, and embedded in communities. They are the clients we serve and those the system was built for. COVID-19 showed that this system needs to be reconceived and rebuilt to truly center patients, families, and communities; provide care and allow for well-being that truly serves communities; and ensure that health and health care is accessible to all, including people of color, people in rural communities, and the most vulnerable among us.”

The paper identifies challenges facing patients, families, and communities prior to COVID-19, as well as new and emerging issues during the pandemic. It also outlines five priorities for transformational change after COVID-19, including facilitating engagement; building and restoring trust; prioritizing investment in solutions to advance health equity; realigning care approaches; and examining critical intersections and implementing solutions between patients, families, and communities and other sectors.

Mary Naylor, Director of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the paper’s co-leads, noted, “The priority actions identified in all of the other papers in this series are absolutely necessary to transform the health and health care system, but will not achieve their goal without an explicit and sustained focus on improving the experience of patients, families, and communities within the system. COVID-19 provides an opportunity for true transformation in how we deliver health and health care in this country – we cannot let it pass us by.”

In response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the American health system, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has convened experts in 9 sectors of health, health care, and biomedical research to review how each sector responded to COVID-19, identify challenges encountered in combating the pandemic, and outline opportunities to reinforce, revitalize, and transform the health system. These insights are being released as 9 NAM Perspectives discussion papers between April and December of 2021, and then bundled into a NAM Special Publication titled Emerging Stronger After COVID-19: Priorities for Health System Transformation, which is scheduled to be released in Spring 2022. The NAM Special Publication will include all 9 previously published papers and a new concluding chapter that reviews cross-cutting themes and opportunities from the individual papers.

The paper and all future releases are available at nam.edu/TransformingHealth. The final papers in the series will focus on health product manufacturers and innovators and digital health. These papers will be released in the coming weeks.

The NAM Special Publication, Emerging Stronger After COVID-19: Priorities for Health System Transformation, will be released in Spring 2022 and will be available at nam.edu/publications.


Please contact namleadershipconsortium@nas.edu with any questions or requests.

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