Video: Andy Slavitt on COVID’s health system stress and the need for public health revolution

Tom Sullivan | September 29, 2021

Discussion: View from Washington: Lessons Coming out of Covid 

Discussion Leaders:  

  • Andy Slavitt, former Senior Advisor to the Biden Administration, COVID Response, former Acting Administrator, CMS, and founder and Board Chair Emeritus, United States of Care  
  • David Brailer, MD, Executive Chairman, Health Evolution  

On stressing the health system during the pandemic 

Brailer: “If you characterize the sweep of our careers, it’s been in the backdrop of lowering cost of care, trying to improve efficiency, trying to squeeze out redundancy, excess waste, all the things that we might now call attributes of resilience. My question is, if you look at the stress that we’ve now put on hospitals, did we go too far? Did we never calculate what we need during a crisis?” 

Slavitt: “We are putting [stress] on the existing hospital system infrastructure on top of a bunch of other things we put on top and we need to adequately fund it. We need a revolution of public health professionals. Most organizations in a few years will probably have a chief public health officer to focus not only on their employees, but their customers and to look out at that awareness. We didn’t have that awareness.” 

On the White House partnering with dating apps to increase vaccine uptake 

Brailer: “One of the more refreshing moments during this terrible crisis was when many of us watched you make the announcement about the dating apps. Swiping right on being vaccinated. And I just wonder, was that effective?”  

Slavitt: “We were just basically trying to come up with all kinds of ways to attract attention to younger people. They’re guided by higher instincts so if they’re not thinking about COVID, what are they thinking about? So that’s where we called the dating apps and the dating apps agreed and said, “Hey, we’ll do that.” And I agreed to come out and make a fool of myself.”  

Brailer: “I admired your courage. I thought it was really very clever.”  

On the Delta variant of COVID-19:   

Brailer: “Are you in the school of people that think this is the peak now? Is it coming? Is it a plateau? What’s your outlook and where do we go from here?”  

Slavitt: “There are people dying in the streets around the world. In that sense, this is far worse than 2020. In the US, obviously the picture is better, but there are still enough unvaccinated people, not just in states with low vaccination levels, but in every state, that I think we’re going to see the wave come in a roller coaster fashion.”  

About the Author

Tom Sullivan, EVP & Editor-in-Chief of Digital Content

Tom Sullivan brings more than two decades in editing and journalism experience to Health Evolution. Sullivan most recently served as Editor-in-Chief at HIMSS, leading Healthcare IT News, Health Finance, MobiHealthNews. Prior to HIMSS Media, Sullivan was News Editor of IDG’s InfoWorld, directing a dozen reporters’ coverage for the weekly print publication and daily website. Contact: or @SullyHIT on Twitter.