HHS on Tuesday set more than 350 measureable goals as part of its 10-year plan to tackle the nation's most pressing public health issues.
The initiative—dubbed "Healthy People 2030"— addresses a wide range of health conditions, health behaviors, populations and social determinants of health.
"For the first time, Healthy People 2030 … sets 10-year targets for objectives related to social determinants of health," HHS said in a statement.
The effort will take on continuing problems like opioid use disorder and youth e-cigarette use. It also includes "resources for adapting Healthy People 2030 to emerging public health threats like COVID-19," the agency said.
But some experts wonder if HHS missed an opportunity to address the COVID-19 pandemic head-on. Dan Mendelson, a former Clinton administration official and founder of consulting firm Avalere Health, was involved in the creation of the Healthy People 2010 initiative.
"It puzzles me that there isn't a clear statement around infection control, COVID-19 and … the disparities we see associated with COVID-19," Mendelson said. "I would have thought there would have been a much more substantive approach taken to this."
According to HHS' website, the agency reduced the number of measurable goals for 2030 compared to 2020 to prevent overlap and focus on critical public health issues. HHS hopes that simplifying the plan will make it easier for organizations to identify the most relevant goals. The agency wants communities, states and a variety of organizations to set their priorities based on the Healthy People 2030 initiative.
Outside thought leaders and a working group of subject matter experts from more than 20 federal agencies helped assemble the plan, the agency said in a statement.
HHS set several developmental and research goals. Notable developmental goals include increasing the number of admissions to substance use treatment for injection drug use and raising the proportion of doctors who exchange and use outside health information. Research aims include increasing telehealth use to improve access to health services and boosting the share of homeless adults with mental health illnesses who get access to mental health services.
According to the agency, developmental objectives are high-priority public health issues with evidence-based interventions, but no reliable baseline data. Research objectives are similar but have no evidence-based intervention.
HHS' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has put forth a similar plan every 10 years since 1980.