Prevention Policy Matters Blog

The Prevention Policy Matters Blog helps translate public health policy into practice, offering innovative ways to make national guidelines work in communities across the nation. Discover insights and practical tips from experts across all of ODPHP’s divisions, as well as compelling stories from other professionals.

By Ryan Moran, MD, Preventive Medicine Resident, University of California, San Diego

Although health care workers promote vaccinations to their patients, their own immunization rates lag behind the Healthy People 2020 target of 90%. This is a great concern, given that health care workers care for some of the most vulnerable populations in our society.…

Did you know many older adults may lose their sense of feeling thirsty? By the time they do feel thirst, they may be severely dehydrated. Did you know dehydration can be linked to confusion and falls in an older person? Making sure that older adults drink enough fluids is critical to keeping them safe, especially during the summer when older adults have trouble responding to changes in temperature.
July 14-15, 2016 marked the first meeting of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. Seventeen of the nation’s leading physicians, scientists, and public health researchers were officially sworn in by Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, and charged with examining the strongest science in physical activity and health. (Meet the experts) Their efforts will generate a comprehensive scientific advisory report that will ultimately inform the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
In 2008, Washington State held a very dubious title. We had the highest kindergarten vaccination exemption rate in the country at 7.5 percent —5 times the national average! Immunization leadership in Washington realized that this rate represented a shift in the landscape—away from immunization as a community priority.
Imagine a community where all residents, regardless of their neighborhood or socioeconomic status, have access to what they need to be healthy. How would we build this kind of community? If we consider this question and the myriad factors that influence health, it becomes clear that building a healthy community requires strong buy-in from every sector and robust community engagement.
Medications used to treat diabetes are among the most common causes of emergency hospitalizations due to adverse drug events. Diabetes agents are one of three medication classes that are the focus of the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention. The objectives of the action plan are to identify common, preventable, and measurable medication-induced harms and to align federal work to reduce adverse drug events nationally. The collective effort of all providers caring for patients with diabetes is essential in reaching national prevention goals for adverse drug events.
Today, public health has the potential to be at the forefront of redefining standards for population health. Today, we are not the only ones in the population health sphere. As health care moves from volume to value, we are hearing new standards for population health such as membership in a health insurer, a patient with a specific condition, or a group of patients served by the same physician (a physician’s panel). These are not the standards that public health has historically used to measure population health.
When it comes to physical activity and health, we know that regular physical activity can produce long term health benefits and reduce the risk of depression, cognitive decline, and many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. And when it comes to opportunities to be physically activity, we know that we need to do more to create communities where everyone can make physical activity a part of their daily routine – through safe spaces to walk, run, bike, wheelchair roll, and play.
America’s health could be better. Here in Nashville our health care is among the best in the world, but our health could be better. It must get better. Nashville is booming right now, but if we can’t sustain our health and the health of our workforce, our soaring economy will no longer soar, and our vibrant community will lose its shine. If we don’t pay attention to the health of our children and youth, they won’t learn and our city won’t advance.
On June 14, 2016, more than 150 stakeholders gathered at the Lentz Public Health Center in Nashville for what felt like a treasure hunt. We were seeking ways to strengthen local public health departments in their efforts to address the social determinants of health (economic development, education, transportation, food, environment, and housing). This is the goal of Public Health 3.0 , a term coined by Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, to describe a bold expansion in the scope and reach of public health.