Letter from the Chair

Dear Colleagues,

This annual report documents the year during which we confronted the new problem of COVID-19 and began to grapple more seriously with the generations-old consequences of systemic racism. I am writing this introduction during the week in which Massachusetts experienced its first day in many months with no COVID deaths, and also the week in which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised us that COVID-immunized individuals no longer need to wear masks in most settings. While we can celebrate some successes against COVID-19, we are only beginning to address the challenge of health inequity.

To the outside observer, our transition to remote work appeared seamless. This appearance masked extraordinary effort by so many members of our Institute, who made it possible to continue working while coping with the complexities of managing life at home. 

In part because that transition worked so well, it proved possible both to keep up the research and teaching we had already planned, and also to take on a large portfolio of new activities. In this report we document some of the highlights. For COVID-19 these spanned public health surveillance, investigating the natural history of the illness, measuring the treatments, making hospitals safe for patients and health care workers, and understanding the impact of COVID on health plan members. We are only beginning our work on health equity. But we have new work in progress to assess the impact of race on members’ access to care, especially as it has been affected by COVID-19.  As is the case for much of our work, we hope it will have both local and national impact.

Our goal always is to use our skills and resources to work toward a healthier and more equitable society. I invite you to take a look and let us know what you think.

Sincerely,

Richard Platt
Professor and Chair, Department of Population Medicine
President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute