Jotting down his reflections in a blog, Dan Finke, who is EVP CVS Health and President Aetna, maintained that the first anniversary(March 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic marked a difficult milestone for our society. One in which a devastating disease took more than 535,000 American lives – causing unthinkable grief and making massive disruption necessary to protect us.
He listed what has changed: According to him :
- It altered nearly every aspect of life, including the way we work, socialize, educate, mourn and celebrate. It cast a floodlight on areas, like health inequities and mental health, while also serving as a catalyst for advancements in the way we deliver and receive care. *The innovation and progress made in health care in the past year have been unparalleled. The most visible – the rapid development of effective vaccine technologies to fight the disease. It’s been a moment of pride and hope to see my CVS Health colleagues administering these vaccines at locations across the country, including long-term care facilities and our neighborhood CVS pharmacies.
- With the collective efforts of so many across business, government, and civil society, over 100 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed, and the country is on track to make the vaccine fully available. This could mean potentially returning to normal activities this summer.
- Reimagining How We Care For Our MembersThe pandemic also inspired our industry to quickly develop new capabilities to help members and patients maintain optimal health. At Aetna, we’ve been deeply concerned about our members’ physical health and mental wellbeing. These concerns are not only around member safety from COVID-19, but also how we help them maintain their health if they are unable or too scared to access care outside of the home, have a loss of income, or are feeling the pressures of increased stress and loneliness.
- With this in mind, we worked with partners to build out virtual care capabilities to support skyrocketing needs and sent care packages to members diagnosed with COVID-19 through Aetna’s Healing Better program, Caring for You kits to Medicare members, and short-term food supplies to Commercial members who self-identified as having food insecurity.
- Throughout the pandemic, we staffed a 24-hour Nurse Help Line. As members call in, we help them get tested for COVID-19 and manage symptoms at home, when appropriate, with supports like telehealth, to make it more convenient and enable more hospital capacity for those who need it. Mental Wellbeing Teams provided almost 50,000 hours of services around the country, and in collaboration with CVS Health MinuteClinic®, we began to provide licensed clinical social workers in select HealthHUB™ locations to meet increasing needs with offerings such as depression screenings.
- While these and other innovations were created to address the needs of the pandemic, they taught us lessons that will prove invaluable to the long-term accessibility and simplification of care.
- Emerging StrongerLike many of us, the last year gave me an opportunity to pause and reassess my priorities, and I have a deeper appreciation for the connections with my family, friends, and colleagues. Together, we have forged stronger bonds as we leaned on one another during this crisis and emerged more resilient than ever before
- The lessons we learned from this painful period have made us think differently about our health and how we prioritize it, both as individuals and within the health care system. Together, we can and will make it better.