National Prevention Strategy Put into Action

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

June 23, 2012 - Preventing illness costs less and is preferable to treating conditions once they develop, and now the National Prevention Council has released an action plan for implementing the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, a comprehensive plan aimed at increasing the number of healthy Americans.

Illness Prevention Strategy
Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., MS, said the new action plan outlines ways to stay healthy at every stage of life.

“It’s moving away from a model of sickness and chronic disease and embracing a model of health and wellness,” said Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., MS, senior vice president of community health and equity, chief wellness officer and the Gail and Lois Warden endowed chair on multicultural health at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Wisdom is a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health that made recommendations to the National Prevention Council.

“We know that prevention helps people live long and productive lives and can help combat rising healthcare costs,” said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the action plan’s announcement on June 13, 2012.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) created the council, which is comprised of 17 federal agencies. It released the strategy in 2011 and now has outlined more than 200 actions to address the plan’s four strategic directions: (1) building healthy and safe community environments; (2) expanding quality preventive services in clinical and community settings; (3) empowering people to make healthy choices; and (4) eliminating health disparities.

Illness Prevention Strategy
Archelle Georgiou, M.D., expects the National Prevention Strategy will have an indirect yet positive effect on healthcare providers.

“This will have an indirect effect on healthcare providers in a good way,” said Archelle Georgiou, M.D., founder of Georgiou Consulting in Minneapolis and a supporter of using antimicrobial copper surfaces to reduce the risk of infections. “It aligns 17 of the federal agencies around a common set of health objectives, and that’s great.”

Georgiou expects greater synergy and momentum will increase effectiveness. And she thinks the National Prevention Strategy will extend the accountability for health beyond traditional healthcare providers.

“It makes it all of our responsibility, and that’s good for doctors and the healthcare system,” Georgiou said. “[Not only] will it have a direct effect, but, does it have an important effect on health and healthcare? Absolutely.”

“This is unprecedented at driving health and wellness at the national level,” Wisdom said. But she hopes people in local and state governments and the private sector implement the strategic plan, as well. “This strategy is a ‘call to action’ for a diverse group of stakeholders.”

Of interest to Medicare providers, the plan calls for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to identify models of care that promote preventive services, such as Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations and the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative.

The government will encourage older adults to take advantage of the annual Medicare wellness visit and ensure providers understand the benefit and other prevention service provisions in the ACA.

HHS will continue to support data interchange between clinical providers through its Health Information Exchange program to promote better communication and collaboration among providers, laboratories and other entities.

The government will implement the National Vaccine Plan and educate consumers and health care professionals about the importance of vaccines. Hoping to ensure appropriate opioid prescribing, HHS is educating providers about preventing prescription painkiller overdoses and the Opioid Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies program.

As part of the effort to increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce, the Environmental Protection Agency will support efforts to expand the integration of children’s environmental health into healthcare provider education and practice, and HHS will recruit healthcare providers in underserved areas through the National Health Service Corps and support other training initiatives.