During the COVID-19 pandemic, the private sector responded with unprecedented urgency to emerging needs, including ramping up production for medical products and pharmaceuticals, re-tooling assembly lines to develop new products, ensuring swift and efficient distribution of those products, sharing information to increase coordination and situational awareness, and adapting care delivery to manage surges in disease. Successful response efforts during the pandemic generally required significant private-public collaboration and within-industry data sharing and partnerships, even where proprietary concerns or intra-sector competition would normally restrict such collaboration. Despite these successes, the COVID-19 pandemic also revealed vulnerabilities in the United States health care system, such as shortages, distribution bottlenecks, and conflicting or unclear regulatory guidance that delayed and hampered response efforts.
To support the healthcare sector’s capacity to prepare for and respond to the next public health emergency, the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), an alliance of leaders from all sectors of American health care, and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy collaborated on an initiative aimed at strengthening the U.S. health care sector’s capacity to prepare for and respond to future disasters. The Disaster Preparedness and Response Initiative brought together expertise from across public and private sectors to highlight lessons learned from the response to the COVID-19 crisis, identify innovations that can be maintained or strengthened, and develop recommendations for how the private and public sectors can better collaborate to prepare and respond to the next emergency.
This initiative was well positioned to help clarify, shape, and coordinate the execution of that strategy among governmental and private sector leaders. It was unique in its focus on private-public coordination; in developing recommendations applicable to a broader spectrum of disaster responses beyond pandemics (including natural disasters, bioterrorism, cybersecurity, and others); and in creating targeted, bold recommendations that private sector leaders, the new Congress, and incoming Biden Administration can adopt in the immediate term. Although HLC’s work to support improved disaster preparedness started before the COVID-19 global pandemic, it has naturally taken on greater urgency as the pandemic continues to cause widespread mortality and economic disruption.
Throughout the initiative, public and private stakeholders consistently identified the need to strengthen coordination and collaborations, harmonize conflicting requirements during emergencies to improve health care mobility and surge capacity, improve equity, increase transparency for emergency management, and leverage innovations that were developed during the pandemic. To accomplish these cross-cutting objectives, the initiative focused on actions that could be taken in each of the following areas:
• Improving data and evidence generation, and
• Strengthening innovation and supply chain readiness, and
• Innovating care delivery approaches.
In each area, the report outlines key actions private sector leaders can commit to accomplishing together and identifies recommended actions for public sector leaders to improve coordination and collaborations for public health emergencies.
Research Director, Health Care Transformation
Adjunct Associate Professor
Senior Team Member
Margolis Core Faculty
Visiting Policy Associate
Chief of Staff
Senior Team Member
Director of Margolis Center
Robert J. Margolis, MD, Professor of Business, Medicine and Policy
Margolis Executive Core Faculty