2020 Annual Report: Our Story at Year 8

Letter from the Executive Director

It is impossible to look back on 2020 without acknowledging the local and global devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ariadne Labs was founded on the belief that the failure to equitably provide high-quality, dignified care is health care’s biggest cause of suffering and death. The pandemic has only magnified systemic failures across health care locally and globally—from depleted public health infrastructures, fragmented delivery systems, and unacceptable outcome disparities.

As we look toward the future of the health system in a post-pandemic world (or even a future where COVID-19 is endemic and manageable through vaccines and therapeutics), our work developing scalable systems-level solutions that equitably improve health care delivery has never been more important.

Positioned at the intersection of clinical medicine and public health, COVID-19 has been a deeply personal experience for our organization. Many of our faculty and staff have battled the pandemic on the frontlines—from primary care offices, to surgical wards, emergency rooms, labor and delivery wards, cancer centers, and most recently, vaccination centers. Many have lost patients, some have lost loved ones, and as of the publication of this report, we’ve been separated physically from each other for more than a year.

Despite the upheaval, we had numerous significant milestones. We launched new programs, catalyzed policy change nationally and globally, and continued to drive positive outcomes for patients around the globe. This report tells that story of adaptation, agility, and perseverance.

We remained true to our methodology, using our Ariadne Arc to design and rigorously test scalable systems-level solutions. We relentlessly focused on our core work: identifying and closing know-do gaps—the gaps between what we know should or could be done in theory, and what actually takes place in frontline care and public health systems.

Our impact was both locally relevant and global in reach, touching more than 65.2 million patient lives in 2020—approximately three people for every dollar invested in Ariadne Labs.

In 2020, we converged our efforts on three crucial gaps that are disrupting health care delivery—safety, communication, and integration. We innovated around solutions that improved processes, enhanced purpose for patients and their providers, and impacted populations at scale. To that end, we launched a home hospital program and were one of several organizations that advised the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on how to scale—and pay for—this promising new model of care. We continue to drive improvements in primary health care through better measurement and, despite the pandemic challenges, we collaborated with ministries of health in countries around the world to develop snapshots of their primary health care systems that helped drive multimillion-dollar global investments in better PHC systems. Our landmark BetterBirth study of more than 300,000 women and newborns in Uttar Pradesh, India, drove new analyses and insights about the effectiveness of the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist, and how best to adapt it to new settings. We doubled the number of health care institutions enrolled in our Better Evidence Training Program and are now providing access to digital clinical and training tools to more than 22,000 medical students, residents, and faculty.

Over the past year, we also focused on addressing the immediate threat of COVID-19, innovating solutions across eight priority areas where we knew we could have immediate impact: community mitigation strategies, global best practice learnings, supporting seniors and vulnerable populations, developing protocols for safe surgeries, redesigning obstetrics, telehealth in ambulatory care, scaling COVID-19 testing, and improving equitable vaccine delivery. By leveraging our expertise in health systems, data science, and frontline clinical delivery, our resources and ideas reached more than 7.8M people across 166 countries in 2020, and had tangible policy impact locally and nationally.

The pandemic has revealed the catastrophic consequences of an inefficient, inequitable, unprepared health care system. But it has also revealed the system’s capacity and demand for innovation and ingenuity, as well as health care workers’ quiet, heroic pragmatism in the face of incredible challenge and tragedy. We are redoubling our efforts to build a more dignified and effective health system for all in the wake of the pandemic. For life’s most critical moments and the stages between, we are committed to innovating solutions that reduce suffering and save lives for everyone, everywhere.

Be well,
Asaf Bitton
Executive Director, Ariadne Labs