March 29, 2023

Supporting a safer future with public health

We’re partnering on 3 initiatives to strengthen public health in the United States.

A strong public health system promotes and protects the health of people and the communities in which they live, work, and play.

A strong public health system is vital to improving health equity and responding to public health emergencies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen what can be accomplished when public, private, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations come together to protect and improve the health of communities.

The pandemic, however, also exposed significant, long-standing gaps in our nation’s public health system. These include an underfunded and patchwork infrastructure, a rapidly diminishing workforce, and growing distrust of health institutions.

“We believe the health care industry must come together to write a playbook with our public health partners to make our system more resilient and responsive to the needs of our communities,” said Greg A. Adams, chair and chief executive officer for Kaiser Permanente. “We must work together; we must define our mutual roles; and we must ensure that the public health system will be fully successful in its mission to improve the health and well-being of all people.”

Investing in public health: A coordinated approach

Kaiser Permanente joined national leaders across the health care, public health, academic research, and nonprofit sectors to outline what can be done to bolster the public health system, recognizing the vital role it plays in our nation’s health care ecosystem. The result is a shared public health agenda, focused on 3 critical areas:

  • Public health and health care delivery: We’re working in collaboration with AHIP, the Alliance of Community Health Plans, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association to ensure that our nation’s health care and public health systems have the tools, knowledge, and working relationships needed to respond together effectively in the event of a crisis.
  • Public health and community-based organizations: Community organizations provide essential services to communities. They play a critical role in ensuring that community voices and needs guide public health responses. We’re working with the CDC Foundation to identify and disseminate best practices for making and maintaining connections between public health agencies and community organizations. Improved partnerships will ensure people receive better resources and better care.
  • Public health and research: Our nation urgently needs better data on the impact and effectiveness of public health services. We’re supporting AcademyHealth as it develops a new public health research agenda to improve the evidence base on how best to deliver public health services. Our goal is also to find and secure investments to build research and innovation that will optimize our public health system.

“Kaiser Permanente is proud to stand and lead with other health care organizations to promote our country’s resilience and help prepare for future health emergencies,” said Adams.

Investing in the resilience of our public health system is critical to promoting health equity and helping to maintain the health and well-being of our communities.

“We saw the toll that COVID-19 took on our health system and our communities. It’s urgent that we take steps now to better protect ourselves in the future,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. “Our communities have the best chance at achieving good health when our health ecosystem — including hospitals, public health institutions, and community-based organizations —work together. I’m very excited that Kaiser Permanente is doing its part to build support for a more robust public health infrastructure.”