As COVID-19 ripples through our communities and unemployment remains at historic levels, it can be hard to think about the future. But even in times of uncertainty and upheaval, there can be great innovation.
If there’s one population who understands that, it’s Millennials. This generation already has lived through turbulent times, including the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession, before even reaching middle age.
“This is a great time to question the inequities that have gotten us to a place where we are seeing record numbers of uninsured people when it comes to healthcare. How did we get here? What can we do to ensure this never happens again? And why is our healthcare tied to employment?” said Natalie Bencivenga, LSW, MSW and syndicated Ask Natalie advice columnist.
She isn’t the only one posing these questions. With more than 5.4 million Americans out of jobs and without insurance during this pandemic, Millennials are demanding change on many fronts. This is an opportunity to create a better future that insures all people, cares for all people and reinstitutes the notion of “people over profits.”
Beyond the politics of healthcare, creating the ideal health system of the future will take everyone’s involvement and activation. Preventative care must take center stage, mental health support should be a focal point and systemic medical racism must end for all people to flourish and thrive.
“We have an opportunity at this moment to do something different. We can make positive changes to the ways in which we deliver healthcare, how we ensure that everyone has access to quality care, and institute leadership that can heal the wounds of the past with anti-racism work that Millennials and Generation Z are adamantly in support of,” Bencivenga added.
Instead of waiting for things to return to what they were like before COVID-19, the time is now to pivot and focus forward. How can we connect purposefully with our collective intelligence to create real solutions for health disparities? This is the question Dr. Vonda Wright, founder of Women’s Health Conversations, wants every American to be pondering.
“Having been in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years, I believe that health is a privilege that we should all take seriously. We are not guaranteed good health,” she said. “I believe that each one of us is responsible for the daily maintenance of our own health and that each one of us must do our part.”
During a global pandemic that’s taken more than 200,000 American lives, seeking innovation in the delivery of healthcare — as well as improving the personalization of and access to healthcare — is more important than ever.
Dr. Wright said we are living in ambidextrous times, “meaning that we are living with one hand on the past from which we draw best practices but also with one hand in the future to create the platform for better health delivery.” She believes that “is what the present calls for.”
And who better to lead this charge than Millennials? They’ve grown up in a world that has asked them to reinvent, reimagine and recreate time and time again — not only with themselves in mind but also for the betterment of society.