Practicing Corona: Towards a research agenda of health policies

As Corona virus is here to stay, health policy research is needed. That’s why colleagues Roland Bal, Bert de Graaff, Hester van de Bovenkamp, and Iris Wallenburg wrote a health policy research agenda for the Corona-crisis from a healthcare governance perspective. In this paper four areas or research are proposed: decision-making structures and practices, mediatisation, organisation of healthcare, and expertise. Within each theme pertinent questions are highlighted.

Corona virus is putting an enormous stress on the world, and on healthcare systems in particular. Massive efforts are being taken as to the prevention of further outbreaks, the treatment of patients, and the training and protection of health professionals. Healthcare providers around the world are either overwhelmed by patients, making plans for new waves of the virus, or anticipating waves of delayed care. Calls for the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), drugs and intensive care technology are loud. At the same time, many countries are in lockdown, with economies slowly coming to a halt and only vital services (e.g. healthcare, police) operational and others (e.g. education) moving into the virtual world.

Research can and should help in dealing with this crisis. Whilst much research efforts are currently and understandably undertaken for policy (e.g. predicting the spread of infection, course of disease and planning capacity) the study of preventive and care policies with regard to epidemic crises (e.g. how policies come about, how they are implemented and to what effects and for whom) is equally important. Corona is here to stay for a while—as a virus and as an issue on the political agenda—and researchers of health policy should start doing research on how our policymakers and institutions deal with this crisis and to what consequences.

In this short paper we therefore suggest an agenda for policy research. We do this largely from our background in healthcare governance, realizing that other fields and disciplines will have other themes and valuable contributions to make. Health planning studies on how to calculate necessary capacities (1); economic studies on the cost-benefits of specific strategies towards early warning (2) and remediation strategies, social psychology studies on risk perspectives and communications (3)—those will all be necessary, but lie outside the scope of this agenda. Here we focus mainly on decision-making structures and practices, the organization of healthcare and welfare systems and their underlying values, mediatization and the importance of language, and the role of expertise.

To read the whole paper, please download the pre-print down below.

More information

Roland Bal, Bert de Graaff, Hester van de Bovenkamp, and Iris Wallenburg all work for our Health Care Governance research group. More information about their work can be found on their website.