“There is no single more powerful concept” in transforming health care than transparency—that is, accurate information for everybody about the costs, quality, and other aspects of health care—according to former US Senate Majority Leader and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Board Member Bill Frist at the Second National Summit on Transparency in Health Care Costs, Prices, and Quality. Not only is shining the spotlight on costs and quality the key to making health care markets work, Frist said, but it’s also central to delivering the vaunted Triple Aim of better health, better health care, and lower costs. Here are our key takeaways reflecting how much transparency discussions have advanced since the first RWJF sponsored summit in 2013:
Apr 10, 2015, 12:55 PM, Posted by Pamela Russo
The U.S. Army is gearing up for public health accreditation for the first time, a development that opens the door for collaboration between military and civilian public health departments—leading to better health for all.
A decade ago, there was a common maxim heard about governmental public health departments that declared “if you’ve seen one health department; you’ve seen one health department.”
This tongue-in-cheek expression arose in part from the federalist administration of public health, which has resulted in public health codes that vary by state, and department-specific financing and structure. Additionally, this maxim reflected a fragmented and dysfunctional national system that lacked consistency across public health settings.
Today, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is working to realize a new era of public health defined by the application of strong and universal public health standards. That’s why the Foundation is a proud supporter of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and their efforts to establish national performance standards for public health agencies across the United States.
Apr 9, 2015, 9:27 AM, Posted by Sheree Crute
The South Bronx's Via Verde, an award-winning affordable housing complex designed around equity and social cohesion, shows us a new era of healthy design is here—and it's contagious.
Each winter, Raquel Lizardi and her heartiest garden club members brave the New York City cold to tend their community’s apple trees. “They are very delicate,” Lizardi says, sharing her training at GrowNYC, a nonprofit that seeks to create a healthier environment in the city, block by block. Their efforts ensure that the small orchard yields barrels of sweet Red Delicious, Gala, and slightly tart McIntosh apples for Lizardi and her neighbors in the fall.
Come spring, the group turns its attention to planting enough organic spinach, collards, kale, berries, tomatoes, other vegetables, and herbs to keep all of their tables filled with free, fresh produce.
The orchard, gardens, and grove of evergreens where Lizardi and her neighbors come together are a center of community activity at Via Verde/The Green Way, an award-winning, affordable housing development that rises above a quiet street just off bustling Third Avenue in the South Bronx. Built on a former garbage-strewn lot and Brownfield in 2012, Via Verde is now an international symbol of healthy design achievement.
“The fact that a project like Via Verde can be created as affordable housing means that we can and should do this for everyone,” says Dr. Karen Lee, MD MHSc, of Dr. Karen Lee Health + Built Environment Consulting, and co-author of Active Design: Affordable Designs for Affordable Housing, a report based on Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded research. Her active design guidelines helped shape the project, and those in more than 40 other cities worldwide.
Apr 8, 2015, 9:30 AM, Posted by John R. Lumpkin
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is proud to be a part of the new FNV campaign, using lessons from the marketing industry to make the healthy choice the easy and cool choice by promoting fruits and vegetables.
As my colleague Alonzo Plough recently pointed out, food and beverage marketing to kids is a big deal. Companies spend billions of dollars a year on advertising to reach young people everywhere they are: watching TV, playing digital games and using apps, and connecting to friends and family on social media―the ways to catch their attention seem to grow day by day.
Companies spend billions of dollars because marketing works. Ads can influence the foods and beverages children prefer, purchase, and consume. Even parents can have a hard time seeing through marketing.
That’s why I’m so excited about the launch of FNV.
I was recently at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit where FNV (which stands for fruits and vegetables) was unveiled—a campaign to put the same promotional muscle behind fruits and veggies as other companies put behind soda, candy, and potato chips.
Apr 7, 2015, 2:12 PM
A young activist tells the story of her journey empowering students to influence the health in their local community. This article was originally published in Equal Voice for Families on January 26, 2015.
I was a student at Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles from 2005 to 2009. The school sits on top of a hill, overlooking the city. We had a great view, but our predominantly Latino student body did not have the resources to aspire. Books were dated, classes were crowded, there were few counselors and there weren’t enough teachers. My working-class community struggled with jobs and survival. I did not know how to interpret and change what I, and many of my friends, were experiencing—peer-on-peer violence, racial tensions, gang violence, broken families, and poor health, all the outcomes of an impoverished community.
My school friend Cindy fell into gang life at an early age. I saw her investment in the gang increase until she eventually stopped attending school and I lost contact. I began to wonder if any of the adults at our school tried to support her. Looking back, I believe that Cindy’s path was partially the result of the lack of student support in our education system.
One day, I found an opportunity to create change, or should I say, it found me.
Apr 6, 2015, 11:15 AM, Posted by Alonzo L. Plough
There's a wealth of data that paints a picture of the health challenges and successes of communities across the country. It's critical to use that data to measure progress in order to raise the grade of our nation's health.
For local health officials across the nation, the release of the 2015 County Health Rankings gives communities an important opportunity to reflect on how they are doing when it comes to the health of their residents. The Rankings are a snapshot capturing the healthiest or least healthy counties in a given state.
But the Rankings also give communities a chance to delve deeper and explore beyond the headlines and the misrepresentative “best and worst” lists. Through the Rankings, we can really dive into data that can help us understand how to build a Culture of Health for citizens in all counties across the nation.
Apr 2, 2015, 10:10 AM, Posted by Hilary Heishman
Using data for health is most powerful when you know what problems you're trying to solve. The latest Data for Health report looks at how we can harness that data to source community solutions.
A few months ago, community members and leaders from an array of local organizations came together in Philadelphia, Des Moines, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Charleston, to talk about ways they and others around them use data to improve health—as well as the hopes, concerns, and challenges they face in collecting and sharing data.
After listening to and reading about these conversations that were part of the Data for Health listening series, this piece of practical wisdom captured in a new report on what we learned from those meetings jumped out at me:
The real question is not 'What data do you want to collect?' but rather, 'What problem do you want to solve?'
Apr 1, 2015, 9:20 AM, Posted by David Krol
There are so many opportunities to connect the wealth of data we have at our fingertips and to start asking new questions. David Krol tells his story about how he took this approach to find bright spots in Appalachia.
If you close your eyes and picture Appalachia, what do you see? The images that often arose first in my mind were those from LIFE Magazine’s 1964 photo essay on the war on poverty. Photojournalist John Dominis gave the nation a face to the plight of Appalachian communities in Eastern Kentucky, and poverty and economic hardship have long been central to an outsider’s understanding of the region ever since. But through my work at the Foundation, I knew this narrative was only one part of the region’s rich and diverse story. I knew there was a different story to be told, and so I wanted to shine a light on these bright spots that demonstrate how health can flourish across Appalachia.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:22 AM, Posted by Andrea Ducas
Recent advancements in payment reform have been massive and exciting. It's time to sustain the momentum and transform how we pay for and deliver care.
When it comes to how health care providers are paid, change is in the air. I’m probably more excited than most people about trying to make sure our financial incentives are flowing the right way within the health care system. Here’s why.
Mar 25, 2015, 12:15 AM, Posted by Donald F. Schwarz
Rather than taking poverty and its ravaging effects on health as a given, Philly leaders and citizens came together to usher in change that would make the city a healthier and better place to live for everyone.
If you want to understand the texture of a large city, drive from its downtown and make your way out to the suburbs. With few exceptions, you’ll encounter pockets of poverty transitioning into mixed income neighborhoods and, finally, wealth and privilege in the suburbs.
I have lived in Philadelphia—the nation’s 5th most-populous city and 21st most populous county—for most of my adult life, and that is her reality. As a former public health official, I can tell you that such income gradients have a profound impact on the health of our populations.
The 2015 County Health Rankings released today are unique in their ability to arm government agencies, health care providers, community organizations, business leaders, policymakers, and the public with local data that can be applied to strengthen communities and build a true Culture of Health.