Category Archives: Health Care in 2013
It is a time of year when we celebrate, reflect and make resolutions. When I think about the nursing community, there is so much that makes me proud. I am proud of all the ways nurses care for patients. I am proud of how we are adapting to a fast-changing health care system. I am proud of the ways we work effectively in interdisciplinary teams. And I am proud of the many ways we organize to make our health care system work, especially for the most vulnerable patients.
Following the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, with such devastating loss of life, I was so proud to see that 30 major nursing organizations…and probably more now…came together in one collective voice to advocate to the highest public officials in our land on behalf of all those who need our care. The “call to action” from leading nursing organizations meant that, once again, we took a united stand, as nurses, to proclaim that we care…and we will speak out about what must be done on behalf of the people who put their trust in us.
This made me proud to be a nurse. And it makes me proud to know that we are asking nurses to speak out and effect change as part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. We are asking that the nursing community come together, not for their own benefit…but on behalf of the people and patients who need nurses the most.
The beginning of every year often serves as a time to reflect on events from the previous year, to consider opportunities that lie ahead, and make resolutions for things one wishes to accomplish. As an educator, my New Year’s resolution for the United States health care system is to work toward a more efficient system for educating nurses.
Nursing education represents a critical link among many efforts to improve the nation’s health care. Our education system currently lacks the capacity to meet the current and future workforce demands, particularly in rural states. Goals such as increasing workforce diversity, creating resource efficiency in education processes (particularly for advanced practice nursing education), and enhancing education systems leading to a more educated workforce are among the highest priorities for action in 2013.
Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a practicing physician at the Philadelphia Veteran Affairs Medical Center; and author of Clinical Wards Secrets, a guide for medical students transitioning from the classroom to the hospital wards. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.
While most people spend a few hours a year visiting the doctor, they spend another 5,000 waking hours without any direct contact from the U.S. health care system. There has been an increasing amount of attention on how to design systems that encourage healthy behaviors among the population during their everyday activities. Insights from behavioral economics provide opportunities to design systems that monitor, incentivize and provide feedback to encourage these changes.
One proposal to change behavior is to increase price transparency in the U.S, with initiatives at the state and federal levels. Lessons from other industries and concepts from behavioral economics demonstrate that this must be designed carefully to increase the likelihood that price transparency changes behavior.
One example is the use of calorie-labeling in fast food restaurants. While its intended outcome is to reduce consumer consumption, there are several reasons why it has thus far not been very successful. Consumers may not understand the caloric information or the problem may be self-control and not related to information at all.
Using concepts from behavioral economics such as framing the information or making it more salient could improve its impact on reducing calorie consumption.
As the New Year approaches, millions of Americans will make resolutions to improve their diet, increase their exercise, or to quit smoking. Let’s do our part to design systems that help our population meet their goals and increase healthy behavior.
Jason Corburn, PhD, MCP, is associate professor at the School Public Health & Department of City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley. He is a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and an RWJF Health & Society Scholar. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.
The U.S. health care system must stop treating people only to send them back into the living, working and playing conditions that are making them sick in the first place. Glaring health inequities continue to persist in our metropolitan areas – differences in life expectancy, disease and disability by racial and ethnic groups and neighborhood location. Our zip codes are often a greater predictor of our likelihood of disease, disability and early death than our genetic code. We need to shift our health care system from a focus largely on cures to preventing illness and death by improving our living, working and playing environments.
2013 must be the year we all view community development and city planning as ‘preventative medicine.’
My New Year's resolution for the U.S. health care system and population health is that there is more sustained attention to the fragile economic state of many of America’s families and households, especially as we continue to climb out of this most recent Great Recession. I say this in light of the strong empirical evidence that economic inequality continues to be inextricable linked to health disparities within our country. I also believe it is especially important at this moment in U.S. history, given the increasing calls to balance the federal budget by defunding social safety net programs— in particular those that provide social insurance to America’s most economically vulnerable populations.
A significant portion of the U.S. population is still either unemployed or underemployed. Many Americans remain deeply concerned about health care costs or the threat of financial instability due to health-related problems. The passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act was a positive step to ensure proper health care coverage for those previously shut out of private health insurance markets, such as young adults and individuals with pre-existing health conditions. It would be naïve, however, to think that just one policy will provide the economic security U.S. households need to be productive workers and active consumers.
Kelly Buettner-Schmidt, MS, BSN, is executive director of Healthy Communities International at Minot State University, and a doctoral fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico. She has been awarded numerous grants for her work on tobacco control policy. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.
This is an exciting time for the U.S. health care system or, as I prefer to call it, the U.S. health system (because health “care” system limits what one includes as part of the “system”). As a public health professional for nearly 30 years—about 20 years as a frontline public health nurse, and now 10 years in academia—I have discovered the need to educate people on all that the state and federal public health systems do to improve the health of not only individuals and families but also communities.[i] [ii]
More than half of my professional career, both as a practitioner and academic, has focused on tobacco prevention and control policies.[iii] Professional and nursing colleagues, acquaintances, friends, and family often think of my work in tobacco control policy as separate from my public health nursing career. The reasons for this, I believe, are at least two-fold. First, nursing is often equated with direct client care; second, the tobacco industry effectively confuses many into believing the science of tobacco control is controversial and thus spending public health and tax dollars on tobacco control seems wasteful to the public. (As an aside, many nurses are involved in tobacco control. Please join us!)[iv],[v],[vi]
If you’re looking for peace and joy this holiday season, don’t invite a liberal and a conservative health economist to your holiday party. Health economists from the political left and the political right tend to have very different views on what ails the U.S. health care system – and what should be done to fix it. After a glass or two of punch, they are likely to become loud and argumentative—dampening the holiday spirit.
But if you’re Barack Obama and John Boehner, and you’re looking to heal our health care system this holiday, invite over a few strident health economists and let the eggnog flow. There are important truths being articulated by both extremes of the health policy spectrum. A wise policy-maker would harness this diversity of wisdom.
Happy (almost) 2013, blog readers!
Last year we asked Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, grantees and alumni to outline their New Year’s resolutions for our health care system, and what they thought should be the priorities for action in 2012. The responses we received were inspiring and thought provoking, and we hope that—unlike that resolution to go to the gym!—many of them were realized.
But 2013 will be a new year. Our population is growing, becoming more diverse, and aging, and our health care system is changing to meet emerging needs. New research is being conducted, new models of care are being tested, and health policy continues to change at the state and federal levels.
We can only imagine what the coming year will hold, so we’ve again asked experts from the field to weigh in this holiday season to share their vision. Check back through early January to read their priorities for our health care system in 2013.
From all of us at the RWJF Human Capital portfolio, we wish you a very happy holiday season.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution for the health care system? Register below to leave a comment.