When we talk about transforming our health care system we talk a lot about prevention. That often brings to mind important public health activities such as prenatal care, immunizations, or other activities that directly prevent disease and chronic conditions to help people stay healthier.
Disease prevention and wellness are also about much more than that. To truly bring about better health, we need to always keep in mind that most of our wellness does not happen in a clinical setting.
Our health is affected by a variety of factors, including clean air and water, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments and healthy homes. That is why the discussions around Coordinated Care Organizations also include how the state and local public health system would work with these new organizations for community health and well being. During the evening work groups and community meetings, there has also been a great deal of discussion about how CCOs can address the social determinants of health.
These are important discussions to have.
Under the vision of Coordinated Care Organizations, we can begin to reduce the separate silos of funding and activities, bring greater flexibility for health care and public health to work on common goals, and bring in new incentives for wellness and systemwide accountability for the health of local communities.
Recently I was talking with a reporter about one of the biggest challenges facing our health care system: the childhood obesity epidemic. Just over 24 percent are overweight. This will have implications on the lives of these young people - and for our health care system for years to come - unless we take more action in our local communities soon. There is no reason for children to face obesity. We know how to work to prevent it through diet, exercise and supportive environments. The challenge before us is to be bold and creative enough to figure out a way to work together to make it happen.