We’re all thinking differently in the wake of the pandemic. It has uncovered and underscored gaps, vulnerabilities and inequities of great proportion - in population health status, access to care, health outcomes by race and much more. It has also laid bare the state of our public health infrastructure, which has been underfunded and overstretched for a generation or more. Public health infrastructure includes federal entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), charged with tracking and preventing disease along with state and local health departments across the country.
It’s now obvious that partnering with a robust public health system is a benefit to business. Healthy communities are essential to healthy businesses, and we recognize that more effective and consistent public health communications, widely available rapid testing and contact tracing could have helped mitigate COVID-19’s spread and impact. As businesses start planning for a return to the workplace, a better resourced public health system could provide clear, evidence-based guidance in a timely fashion to support the myriad of decisions companies must make.
A recently published Fortune op-ed from the chief medical officers at Disney, IBM and Goodyear argues that now is the time to make public health a priority for business: According to the op-ed, “outdated public health systems and resources are no match for the virulence and lethal speed of viruses in an increasingly interconnected world. A modernized public health infrastructure will translate into healthier communities, driving lower health care costs, reducing disability payments and absenteeism, and empowering a more productive and adaptable workforce.”
Business Group on Health has formally endorsed a new report that expands on these themes, written by the Institute for Health & Productivity Studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the de Beaumont Foundation. Seven Ways Business Can Align with Public Health offers recommendations for businesses to both leverage and lift up public health so that it becomes the asset we need for the health of our businesses and the economy.