Right now, more than half of Americans are living with one or more serious, chronic disease ranging from type 2 diabetes to cancer. Those rates are expected to increase significantly over the next two decades, particularly due to the obesity epidemic.
In A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) identifies high-impact steps that the nation can take to prioritize prevention and improve Americans' health.
The report, supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, stresses the importance of taking innovative approaches and building partnerships in order to be effective. Some recommendations include:
Ensuring insurance providers reimburse for effective prevention approaches both inside and outside the doctor’s office;
Working with nonprofit hospitals to identify the most effective ways they can expand support for prevention through community benefit programs;
Maintaining the Prevention and Public Health Fund and expand the Community Transformation Grant program so all Americans can benefit; and
Encouraging all employers, including federal, state and local governments, to provide effective, evidence-based workplace wellness programs.
It also includes case studies from across the country that show the recommendations in action, such as:
The first-of-it-kind Accountable Care Community (ACC) launched by the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Ohio, which brings together more than 70 partners to coordinate health care inside and outside the doctor’s office for patients with type 2 diabetes. By improving care and making healthier choices easier in people’s daily lives, the ACC reduced the average cost per month of care for individuals with type 2 diabetes by more than 10 percent per month within 18 months of starting the program;
The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI), implemented by Boston Children’s Hospital, has provided support to improve the health of children with moderate to severe asthma in at-risk Boston neighborhoods. The CAI 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 is an innovative partnership across four state agencies—Health and Human Services, Transportation, Environment and Natural Resources and Commerce. The partnership focuses on creating win-win policies and programs that improve health like improving transportation, and increasing commerce and stable housing programs.
In addition, the report includes recommendations for a series of 10 key public health issues: reversing the obesity epidemic; preventing tobacco use and exposure; encouraging healthy aging; improving the health of low-income and minority communities; strengthening healthy women, healthy babies; reducing environmental health threats; enhancing injury prevention; preventing and controlling infectious diseases; prioritizing health emergencies and bioterrorism preparedness; and fixing food safety.