How will the future of healthcare change under the Biden-Harris administration?

By André Blackman, Founder and CEO, Onboard Health

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work …”  – Plato

No matter how you look at it, the world has changed in many ways in just the past few years—but more specifically, 2020 was a year in which plans, strategies and livelihoods were turned upside down. Ultimately, how we think about ourselves, our families, our communities and our overall future has been severely impacted by the challenges experienced throughout the past year.

While we are still working through the impact of the events of the past year—public health pressures, thousands of lives lost, racial injustice and violence, fallout from deep health inequities—the expectation of change looms in the air, particularly for the future of healthcare, with the incoming presidential administration.

From what we’ve seen in public announcements, a few key areas of focus illustrate what we might have in store for the coming years.

A Focus on Science & Evidence-Based Action 

Budget cuts, widespread misinformation and general distrust have damaged the reputations of public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and scientific institutions such as the National Institutes of Health—and restoring trust in these organizations will likely be a challenge for President Biden. President Biden and Vice President Harris campaigned around ensuring that science and evidence-based measures will be at the forefront of not only how they tackle the pandemic but also how it will impact the innovation economy.

With the pandemic still very much a priority, the Biden-Harris administration will be getting to work immediately on setting frameworks in place to get public health under control. This will only be possible by prioritizing foundational elements of science and public health measures. Most recently, the new administration announced it is moving the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy into a Cabinet-level position. This underscores the administration’s commitment to this area—as well as to the leadership it will be moving into these roles.

Unlocking Innovation & Inclusive Solutions

The new administration has been quite bullish on the belief that innovation is a result of all Americans coming together to build a better future. Featured on the campaign website, it states:

“Joe Biden will mobilize the talent, grit, and innovation of the American people and the full power of the federal government to bolster American industrial and technological strength and ensure the future is ‘made in all of America’ by all of America’s workers.”

The spirit of innovation, central to who we are as Americans, has long engaged and harnessed the imaginations and contributions of those across the sociopolitical spectrum. Successfully confronting the healthcare challenges we now face will require the willing inclusion, active participation, open-minded collaboration and collective ideas of many. The fresh solutions we generate will help this great nation ensure a safe and healthy future for one another. If the pandemic has taught us (and continues to teach us) anything, it’s that keeping our communities safe and healthy is a critical priority.

During the Obama-Biden administration, there was a clear focus on innovation and technology. I believe a return to this level of future-focused ideas will be a signature aspect of the Biden-Harris administration. This bodes well for the fast-growing landscape of healthcare entrepreneurs and startups tackling issues ranging from women’s health to social determinants of health.

Experienced Leadership

Effective leadership is going to be absolutely critical in this next chapter where ensuring a layer of prevention is put in place is of the utmost importance. With that in mind, having experienced and proven leaders at the helm of some of our most pressing issues will help ensure a smooth and expedient transition. Toward the end of 2020, the Biden-Harris team introduced the COVID-19 Task Force—composed of leaders with deep experience in the areas of public health, health equity and policy.

Because of the global impact of COVID-19, having Loyce Pace, who leads the Global Health Council, on the task force brings deep credibility and a leader who has a bias toward action. In addition to his co-chair appointment to the task force, Dr. Vivek Murthy will be reprising his role as the nation’s surgeon general. Also, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a voice who has been a stable, informative resource throughout the pandemic, will continue his role as the chief medical adviser to President Biden.

Loyce Pace, Executive Director of the Global Health Council || Photo Credit: SwitchPoint Conference 2017

Looking to the Future

As we continue the recovery and rebuilding process, it’s important to note that “returning to normal” is not the goal anymore. The goal will be to have the fortitude and conviction to recognize what has been broken and to peer into those spaces to create fresh solutions to the healthcare challenges our nation is facing. Together, recognizing our humanity and connection to each other will enable us to build opportunities for everyone to thrive.

Welcome to 2021. Let’s get to work.

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