Samantha DuPont

Health Policy Consultant

Policy expertise

Behavioral health, high drug pricing, Medicaid, aging.

Health care trends I’m watching

I’m following the continued evolution of the health care delivery system as it adopts a more holistic approach to health.  I’m watching how patient-centeredness is empowering patients to become active decision-makers in their care.  I’m interested in seeing how the health care system will integrate other types of providers, such as mental health practitioners, social workers, home health workers, and patients’ family and loved ones. I’m excited that silos are breaking down within and across sectors in healthcare, which is necessary to truly advance improvements to the healthcare system.

Professional accomplishments

Throughout my career, I have been involved in consumer advocacy efforts and have worked to advance the policy dialogue on a number of issues in health and healthcare.  Early in my career, I worked on behalf of patients who were injured by Merck Pharmaceuticals’ arthritis drug, Vioxx. The litigation resulted in the largest pharmaceutical settlement in U.S. history.

Continuing my passion for consumer engagement and empowerment, I served as a research associate at Public Agenda, a nonprofit public opinion research and public engagement organization in New York, co-founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and social scientist Dan Yankelovich.  While there, I co-authored several reports illuminating Americans’ opinions on high-profile policy issues such as health care costs, HIV/AIDS, and K-12 and higher education.

At Kaiser Permanente, I’ve been involved in numerous efforts to inform thought leaders and policymakers about Kaiser Permanente’s innovative efforts to address issues facing the delivery system (and beyond), with the goal of influencing changes in policy and delivery system practice. A highlight of my time at Kaiser Permanente has been to lead the development of the Institute’s Policy Forums. Through these forums, I’ve been able to influence and advance the policy dialogue on several issues, including: mental health and wellness, childhood trauma, workforce and high drug pricing. Drawing on my experience as a public opinion researcher, I’ve made a concerted effort to ensure that all stakeholders have a seat at the table, especially those who are underrepresented in the conversation, such as patients, families and community members. It is my firm belief that informed, evidence-based policy decisions can only arise when all voices are considered, and when issues that are left out of the popular conversation are recognized and addressed.

Interests and experience

In 2012, two graduate colleagues from UC Berkeley and I led a highly successful quality improvement project for a Kaiser Permanente hospital in San Rafael, CA.  As part of an ongoing effort to improve care for patients with delirium, we conducted research on family members’ perspectives of patient care.  As a policy consultant for Kaiser Permanente, I am helping to strengthen our communications strategy by expanding our presence on social media and developing new multimedia products.

What Drives Me in Health Policy

Like many in this field, my passion for health policy arose through personal experiences with the health care system. As a caregiver for family members with severe mental illness, I witnessed the many challenges patients (and family members) face when trying to access high quality care and receive the non-medical supports they need to be healthy. From a personal and professional standpoint, I believe that true health care reform will only come about if we engage all stakeholders.  Within “the four walls” of the health care system, this involves integrating patients, family members, caregivers and non-medical providers into the care team.  At a policy level, we must engage all of these actors — in addition to community organizations, advocates, businesses, and others – to understand, and respond to, the complex web of factors that influence health.  I feel fortunate to work at Kaiser Permanente, not only because we have a mission to treat the whole person – mind, body and spirit – but also because we believe that health systems must be involved in changing economic, social and environmental conditions to improve population health.

Education

  • Master of Public Health, Health Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley
  • Bachelor of Arts, Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University

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