Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes

Learn how your health care provider network can:

  • Identify community hot spots & engage vulnerable populations.
  • Craft engaging educational content for optimal reach & impact.
  • Boost patient engagement & safety through testing & wellness tools.

Health Care Provider Networks Must Respond to the Rapid Spread of Infectious Disease
Rates of COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are, once again, on the rise. In the last week of December 2023, 3.6% of all deaths in the United States were attributed to COVID. This is a spike of 12.5% from the previous week, and it seems reasonable to assume this increase is due to crowded holiday gatherings. In addition, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations climbed to nearly 35,000, which was a 20.4% increase from the previous week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are finding similar numbers for RSV, with a positivity rate of over 32% in the last week of December. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) identified another important concern at the end of 2023: a tuberculosis outbreak stemming from bone grafts that contained live human cells. While the appropriate governing bodies notified the health care facilities promptly, this 2023 outbreak unfortunately led to two deaths. This is the second reported event in the United States, with the first taking place in 2021 as a result of a similar incident.

Understanding The Intersection Between Health Care Provider Networks + Infectious Diseases

You may wonder exactly where the intersection lies between provider networks and a rise in infectious diseases. There are several integral ways health plans can activate their provider networks to indirectly (and preventively) minimize the spread of infectious diseases:

  1. Utilize health data to guide prevention. Review statistics to identify community “hot spots” and geographic areas that are most at risk. Explore how to more effectively engage racial and ethnic minorities, unvaccinated individuals, people with multiple comorbidities, and other underserved or vulnerable populations.
  2. Consistently engage in educational efforts to help patients proactively avoid infection. In order to cater to individuals with various levels of health literacy, educational content should take various forms, including but not limited to posters, infographics, videos, pamphlets, and 3D models. This will ensure optimal results and appeal to the wide range of consumers your health plan serves.
  3. Encourage coverage for services and equipment, such as testing kits, health screenings, and wellness checks. These allow providers to not only be more in touch with their patients but also help improve patient engagement and safety.