COVID-19 crisis as a catalyst for innovation and equity in health care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
The headquarters of Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Eagan in September 2014. In the past three months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota CEO Craig Samitt said, telehealth appointments have increased 100-fold.
Jim Mone | AP 2014

Will the COVID-19 pandemic prove to be a catalyst for innovation and greater equity in health care? Professor Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs moderates a discussion with three guests:

  • DFL state Sen. Matt Klein, MD.

  • Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson, who is Deputy Majority Leader.

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota CEO Craig Samitt, MD.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased, among other things, the use of telemedicine or “virtual appointments.” In the past three months, Dr. Samitt said, telehealth appointments have increased 100-fold.

He speculated that we might even see the return of the “house call” and anticipated that in the future 50 percent of medical appointments might be face-to-face, 20 percent telehealth and 30 percent in-home care.

Telehealth can help us move to a “prevention and wellness oriented model” of health care delivery, Dr. Samitt said.

Sen. Benson, who chairs the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, expressed concern about rural access to health care, and all guests agreed that inequities in health care delivery are serious.

Dr. Klein of HCMC said racial disparities in health are stark, and he called this a “severe health care emergency and a societal failure.”

Dr. Samitt of Blue Cross Blue Shield said health plans “should be in the racial inequality business, the social disparity business … and even the food insecurity business.”

The key, they all said, is to provide better care, and reward quality and good outcomes for patients, which will lead to a healthier community overall.

The event was held virtually on July 23.

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