The not-for-profit Trust for America's Health is calling for a revamp of public health management at the federal, state and local levels in a report that urges a greater focus on preventive care.
The report, called “A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move From Sick Care to Health Care in the Next Four Years (PDF)
,” argues that the different agencies in HHS involved with preventive healthcare should work more closely together to coordinate efforts, and existing attempts to become more coordinated have been too slow in creation.
Even within parts of HHS, programs are too separated, the authors of the 98-page report wrote, describing programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “often siloed and based on diseases and conditions,” instead of offering integrated and focused prevention strategies.
Similarly, the authors wrote that while the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration “focus on different health problems, the two agencies have many overlapping functions and serve overlapping populations.”
At the local level, meanwhile, the Trust for America's Health authors recommend that public health departments take more responsibility for the public's health and strengthen their role as chief health strategist in the community.
In terms of efficiency, public health agencies should discontinue paying for or providing care that can be reimbursed by payers, the authors wrote. The federal government could streamline its technology, as it supports more than 300 health surveillance systems and networks.
Along with the many changes suggested by the report is a request for more stable funding for public health, an area that has been traditionally shortchanged and would be better able to prevent chronic conditions in the community in ways that a physician can't.
“Prevention delivers real value as a cost-effective way to keep Americans healthy and improve their quality of life,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the trust, in a news release