Monday, November 9, 2009

Healthy People 2020 needs you!

When Penelope Slade-Sawyer touted the life-saving value of prevention this morning during a session on Healthy People 2020 and said “I hope I’m preaching to the choir here” it was clear that she was, indeed.

“The ultimate goal of Healthy People is to have a healthier nation, and prevention is how to get there,” said the director of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to an overflow crowd.

Slade-Sawyer heads the arm of HHS in charge of getting Healthy People 2020 in shape and ready for public distribution by the end of next year. One of her eye-catching pie charts drove home the woeful state of prevention funding — 95 percent of current health care dollars pay for curative medicine, and just 5 percent for preventive measures.

The Healthy People initiative has grown exponentially since kicking off in 1979. Healthy People 2010 had 467 goals, and it looks like Healthy People 2020 will have close to 600.

One challenge is to balance between the traditional “encyclopedic approach” and one that’s user-friendly. That’s where you come in.

“Give us your opinion,” said Slade-Sawyer, at the Healthy People 2020 site. And in the never-ending search for evidence-based best practices, “evaluate what you do. Let us hear about it.”

New topic areas for Healthy People 2020 will include adolescent health, quality of life, social determinants of health and health care-acquired infections, to name a few. Carter Blakey, known affectionately by her HHS colleagues as “Mrs. Healthy People,” said federal health officials are working to make the new objectives more user-friendly than the telephone book-sized Healthy People 2010 that’s been tough to update and cross-reference.

“Hopefully we’ll go farther than just giving you objectives this decade but also give you some strategies,” Blakey said.

The dream is Healthy People 2020 relational databases, with data available down to the county level. People like Richard Klein, chief of the Health Promotion and Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics, are working to make that happen using GIS mapping technology.

“Funding- and weather-permitting, we hope to have a much better database,” Klein said.

Click here for current Healthy People data.

— D.C.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what level of funding this program has, and how much of the health care reform stuff that is being championed has to do with prevention. It's not as sexy as single-payer insurance, but with adequate prevention -- like those described here -- the single payer option might not be as necessary.

great update on the good work people are doing out there.

Phil and Kristen said...

It would be nice if we could find an happy medium that enabled people to stop thinking they need a magic pill to make them healthy. Then again, I guess that is "everything in moderation." Good advice. Not so easy to follow.

Kendra Shafer said...

I agree that more money should be spent on prevention. Great coverage!