New Report Outlines Key Prevention Strategies to Create a Healthier America

February 7, 2013 - Prevention policies and investments in public health can help Americans live longer, healthier lives, stresses a new report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). In a country where more than half of our citizens are living with one or more serious, chronic disease--many of which are preventable--our priorities need to shift to prevention and problem solving of issues like the obesity epidemic, say the authors.

“Prevention delivers real value as a cost-effective way to keep Americans healthy and improve their quality of life,” said lead author Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH, in a written statement. “Everyone wins when we prevent disease rather than treating people after they get sick. Health care costs go down, our local neighborhoods are healthier and provide more economic opportunity, and people live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

The 100-page report, A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years, stresses the importance of taking innovative approaches and building partnerships. Some recommendations include:

  • Ensuring insurance providers reimburse for effective prevention approaches;
  • Working with nonprofit hospitals to expand support for prevention through community benefit programs;
  • Maintaining the Prevention and Public Health Fund and expand the Community Transformation Grant program;
  • Encouraging all employers to provide effective, evidence-based workplace wellness programs.

Highlights from more than 15 case studies that show the success of the recommendations in action are included, such as:

  • The Accountable Care Community (ACC) launched by the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ohio, which brings together more than 70 partners to coordinate healthcare for patients with type 2 diabetes; the ACC reduced the average cost of care by more than 10 percent per month.
  • The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI), implemented by Boston Children’s Hospital, which has led to an 80 percent reduction in percentage of patients with one or more asthma-related hospital admission; and
  • The Healthy Environments Collaborate (HEC) in North Carolina which is an innovative partnership that focuses on creating win–win policies and programs across four state agencies.

The report also includes findings and recommendations from TFAH’s ongoing initiatives to address a series of 10 high-priority public health issues:

  1. Reversing the obesity epidemic
  2. Preventing tobacco use and exposure
  3. Encouraging healthy aging
  4. Improving the health of low-income and minority communities
  5. Strengthening healthy women and healthy babies
  6. Reducing environmental health threats
  7. Enhancing injury prevention
  8. Preventing and controlling infectious diseases
  9. Prioritizing health emergencies and bioterrorism preparedness
  10. Fixing food safety.

Released on January 29, 2013, the report was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

Read the full report: A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years.

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