Highest-Value Preventive Services Save Billions if Applied to 90 Percent of U.S. Population

Dates of Project: 2006–2012

Field of Work: Identifying high-value evidence-based clinical and community preventive services.

Problem Synopsis: The health impact and cost-effectiveness of clinical preventive services such as smoking cessation or breast cancer screening needs to be examined and re-examined as more and better data becomes available, and as analytical tools improve. Disparities in the use of services also need to be examined and documented.

Similarly, preventive interventions to improve health at the community level such as seat belt laws, need to be examined for their health and economic impact.

Synopsis of the Work: A research team at the Partnership for Prevention:

  • Updated rankings of clinical preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Estimated the health and economic benefits for the U.S. population and selected subpopulations of increasing their use
  • Quantified disparities in their provision
  • Developed and tested methods for estimating the health and economic impact of interventions to improve health at the community level that were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Key Results/Findings

  • The research team updated the rankings of clinical preventive services recommended by the CDC. When published in 2012, the analysis will show that highly rated services—including childhood immunizations, tobacco cessation counseling, and discussing daily aspirin use to prevent heart disease—continue to be a good value because of their health impact and cost-effectiveness.
  • The team found that providing 90 percent of the U.S. population with three clinical preventive services—tobacco cessation screening and assistance; discussing daily aspirin use; and alcohol screening with brief counseling—would generate an estimated net savings of more than $1 billion each, per year. In addition, these three services plus colorectal cancer screening each would prevent the loss of more than 100,000 years of life, a year.
  • The team found troubling disparities, and specific opportunities for improvement, in the use of clinical preventive services among racial and ethnic populations.
  • The team created analytic tools to assess the health and economic benefits of interventions to improve health and prevent disease at the community level, and used them to assess interventions to reduce tobacco use and increase physical activity.