Celebrating the successful cultivation of health equity innovation

Lawrence Cohen
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When it comes to healthcare news at the start of 2022, it can be difficult to find cause for hope amidst the darkness. Two years into the pandemic and we’re facing the spread of a new COVID-19 variant. Regional hospitals remain overwhelmed and understaffed. Physicians and healthcare professionals are justifiably exhausted. And on top of it all, our nation continues to grapple with misinformation and what the American Medical Association (AMA) has identified as malignant health narratives

Grim statistics are telling. On December 13, The New York Times reported that “older people have been known to be more vulnerable, but the scale of loss is only now coming into full view. Seventy-five percent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus.” Also disproportionately impacted are ethnic minorities. As of October 5 this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “age-standardized data show that Hispanic, Black, and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people are at least twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as their White counterparts and that Hispanic and AIAN people are at nearly two times greater risk of COVID-19 infection than White people.”

It’s obvious that this ongoing pandemic has amplified longstanding and numerous disparities in care impacting quality of life and patient outcomes. The need to deliver greater health equity in the U.S. is glaring, urgent, and formidable. We must do better — and we can.

The solution starts with acknowledging the impact of social determinants of health (SODH) on the ability of patients to access care and adhere to a care plan. Supplying high-value care to vulnerable and diverse populations also requires business models and payment methodologies intentionally structured to confront SODH, support health equity, and eliminate unnecessary barriers to care access. 

In short, cultivating health equity requires ingenuity, concerted effort, and investment.

Those are three essentials Health2047 is proud to champion and supply in fulfilling our mission of finding, founding, and scaling powerful ideas and innovative companies that address systemic deficiencies in our health system head-on to enable positive transformation. 

Together with the American Medical Association, we are creating powerful new businesses to tackle our largest healthcare challenges. We believe value is the economics of how you deliver care and equity, and we cultivate innovative business models and technologies that create outsized value through increased access and participation, better outcomes, and lower costs by integrating and evolving technology and workflows to simplify rather than add complexity.

The stakes are high and the task is daunting. So evidence of burgeoning success in our efforts is, indeed, cause for hope. 

And that’s why I’m happy to report that Health2047’s 2019 spinout Zing Health, a physician-led Medicare Advantage insurance company focused on serving vulnerable populations underserved by traditional insurance models, recently announced a new $25 million investment from Town Hall Ventures and Leavitt Equity Partners to accelerate its growth.

Zing Health was founded by two African American physician entrepreneurs, Eric E. Whitaker, MD, MPH, and Kenneth Alleyne, MD, along with Health2047 and healthcare executive Garfield Collins. Newlight Partners invested in the company last year, and now Town Hall Ventures and Leavitt Equity Partners join in advancing Zing Health’s mission to provide leading Medicare Advantage products to older Americans facing high barriers to access. 

Zing Health’s community-based approach addresses social determinants of health through a collaborative model that partners with — and supports — local providers and physicians to extend meaningful access to patient-centered and technology-enabled care for seniors. Members receive individualized assistance, can create personalized plans, utilize facilities designed to help them better meet their healthcare needs, and work with a dedicated care team. Recently, Zing Health became one of just 16 Medicare plans nationally to be recognized by HealthMetrix Research for cost-sharing insurance effectiveness, achieving the designation Excellence in 2022 Medicare Advantage Benefits Value. 

With fresh investment in Zing Health, we’re witnessing the successful cultivation of health equity innovation. That’s some good news worthy of celebration.

— Lawrence Cohen is CEO at Health2047.

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