Posts Tagged ‘prevention’

7 High-Impact Ideas to Prioritize Prevention

February 22nd, 2013 by Jessica Fornarotto

Reimbursement for prevention efforts and employer engagement are among seven high-impact recommendations from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) to prioritize prevention and improve the health of Americans.

“A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years”, a new TFAH report, illustrates the importance of taking innovative approaches and building partnerships with a wide range of sectors in order to be effective.

The report outlines top policy approaches to respond to studies that show that more than half of Americans are living with one or more serious, chronic diseases, a majority of which could have been prevented; and also that today’s children could be on track to be the first in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.

The seven recommendations documented in the report are:

  1. Advance the nation’s public health system by adopting a set of foundational capabilities, restructuring federal public health programs and ensuring sufficient, sustained funding to meet these defined foundational capabilities;
  2. Ensure insurance providers reimburse for effective prevention approaches both inside and outside the doctor’s office;
  3. Integrate community-based strategies into new healthcare models, such as by expanding ACOs into accountable care communities;
  4. Work with nonprofit hospitals to identify the most effective ways they can expand support for prevention through community benefit programs;
  5. Maintain the prevention and public health fund and expand the community transformation grant program so all Americans can benefit;
  6. Implement all recommendations for each of the 17 federal agency partners in the National Prevention Strategy; and
  7. Encourage all employers, including federal, state and local governments, to provide effective, evidence-based workplace wellness programs.

“A Healthier America” also features more than 15 case studies from across the country that show the report’s recommendations in action.

The report also includes recommendations for a series of 10 key public health issues: reversing the obesity epidemic; preventing tobacco use and exposure; encouraging healthy aging; improving the health of low-income and minority communities; strengthening healthy women and healthy babies; reducing environmental health threats; enhancing injury prevention; preventing and controlling infectious diseases; prioritizing health emergencies and bioterrorism preparedness; and fixing food safety.

Meet Health Coach Mary Jo Clarkson: Helping Pregnant, High-Risk Women on Path to Optimum Wellness

July 6th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Mary Jo Clarkson, RN, BSN, CHC, specializing in pre-conceptual health and wellness for FEMTIQUE, Associates, Inc.

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

Mary Jo Clarkson: My first job out of college was as a new staff GN (graduate nurse) on a surgical floor in a Wilmington, DE hospital. Since that time, I specialized in OB/GYN nursing, in staff, management and case management positions. I have also taught prenatal classes, and was involved in the corporate world for nine years, in the pharmaceutical industry.

My friend and colleague of several years, Judith Beaulieu, was starting a new company called FEMTIQUE. She wanted me to be a part of it, and to become a certified health coach along with her. My experience in the corporate world helped me to develop and manage business skills within a professional health coaching practice, with a focus on coaching women experiencing high-risk pregnancies.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications.

I am a CHC (certified health coach) from HCA. I am also a member of the Association for Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN), and am currently pursuing certification as a breastfeeding counseling coach through the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP).

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

I always felt a ‘calling’ to help women who were trying to become pregnant or already pregnant. So when Judy came to me with her business plan, I immediately knew that was a way I would be able to help the most women.

In brief, describe your organization.

FEMTIQUE Associates, Inc. is a non-profit healthcare advocate and health coach organization providing health and wellness care information and resources for women and children, so they can attain better outcomes in their lives and maintain an optimum level of wellness.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

  • Complete confidentiality, with all clients.
  • The client determines his/her long-term goals and we guide them through the steps to achieve their goals.
  • We are NOT always successful in achieving all of our clients’ goals.
  • Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2012?

    The trend is towards more community-based healthcare services.

    What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

    When you see the client become empowered, because they have taken all the necessary steps to achieve their optimum level of wellness and they are accomplishing their goals.

    What is the greatest challenge of health coaching, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

    When clients’ road blocks stop them from achieving their goals. As health coaches, we help our clients work through these road blocks by showing them more paths around and through them.

    What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

    We utilize M.A.S.T.E.R. goal planning software. It is very successful right now.

    Where did you grow up?

    In Springfield, PA.

    What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

    St. Joseph’s University and Neumann University.

    Are you married? Do you have children?

    I am married and have one child.

    What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

    Cooking and sewing are my favorite hobbies – they both developed in my childhood from watching my Italian grandmother cook for hours with pleasure, and sewing many dresses, with just a few measurements and creating something beautiful.

    Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

    Come Home by Lisa Scottoline.

    Aftermath of SCOTUS Healthcare Reform Ruling: The Country Reacts

    June 29th, 2012 by Patricia Donovan

    From retailers to religious groups to every sector of the healthcare industry, reactions were immediate, passionate and divided to yesterday’s Supreme Court validation of the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare.

    The highest court in the country upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate built into the healthcare reform bill, but rejected the law’s right to penalize states that choose not to participate in new Medicaid programs by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.

    Many states and healthcare organizations were waiting for the ruling before deciding whether to implement the many programs spelled out in the Affordable Care Act.

    Here are excerpts from official statements published around the Web yesterday:

    American Medical Association

    “…We are pleased that this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy….This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies. The expanded health care coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive. The decision upholds funding for important research on the effectiveness of drugs and treatments and protects expanded coverage for prevention and wellness care, which has already benefited about 54 million Americans…” (Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, president)

    Restore America’s Voice Foundation

    “The Court threaded a Constitutional needle in redefining the individual mandate as a federal tax. It’s disappointing but not the final recourse for the American people. Now it is time for the legislature to do its job representing the will of the American people for full and final repeal of this ill-considered legislation…It must be repealed in its entirety or Senate Democrats will have to go home and explain their flawed definition of faithful representation. If they won’t represent the will of the people, then how have they earned the right to serve?” (Ken Hoagland, chairman)

    Kaiser Permanente

    “Today’s Supreme Court decision on the federal healthcare reform law resolves much of the legal uncertainty over implementation of the law’s provisions. While acknowledging that political uncertainty still remains, in the interest of our members we plan to continue our extensive reform implementation efforts, which began two years ago when the law first became effective. We want our members to know that they need not be concerned about any disruption of their coverage resulting from the Supreme Court’s decision today…” (Unattributed, published as “Our Point of View”)

    America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP)

    “…Health plans will continue to work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to make coverage more affordable, give families and employers peace of mind, and promote choice and competition. Health plans also will continue to lead efforts to reform the payment and delivery system to promote prevention and wellness, help patients and physicians manage chronic disease, and reward quality care.” (Karen Ignagni, AHIP president and CEO)

    Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC)

    “We are enormously pleased that the Supreme Court recognized the importance of the Affordable Care Act to millions of Americans and upheld the law, though it is disappointing that the ruling also weakened a provision supporting Medicaid expansion. (Ronda Kotelchuck, CEO)

    National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH)

    “We are pleased by the Court’s decision today to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate, which will broadly expand health care coverage. We also are pleased that the decision retains other positive elements of the ACA, including initiatives to promote innovation, preventive care, and community-based collaborations. But our initial assessment of the decision leaves us concerned by its potential to limit Medicaid expansion, which could strand millions of our most disadvantaged people without access to basic health care coverage.” (Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, NAPH president and chief executive officer)

    National Retail Federation:

    “As the voice of retailers of all types and sizes, we’re disappointed by today’s ruling. The Court missed an opportunity to redress the many shortcomings of the law. As it stands, the law wrongly focuses more on penalizing employers and the private sector than reducing health costs. For these reasons, NRF has been a consistent skeptic of the Affordable Care Act….Although the Court upheld the law’s constitutionality, many problems remain: it penalizes employers too much; it doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of healthcare; and it is unreasonably complicated and difficult to implement and administer…This law will have a dramatic, negative impact on every employer and employee in the United States and further constrain job creation and economic growth.” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

    National Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod

    “In light of today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), we remain opposed to the controversial birth control mandate, which is one of the requirements included in the law. The Court’s decision today guarantees that we will continue to bring awareness to the threat to religious liberty represented by the birth control mandate, which requires virtually all health plans, including those of religious organizations, to cover birth control drugs and products that could cause the death of the unborn. We are opposed to the birth control mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life and creates a conflict of conscience for religious employers and insurers, who face steep penalties for non-compliance based upon their religious convictions. (Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president)

    American Hospital Association (AHA)

    “Today’s historic decision lifts a heavy burden from millions of Americans who need access to health coverage. The promise of coverage can now become a reality. The decision means that hospitals now have much-needed clarity to continue on their path toward transformation.” (AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock)

    Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCSA)

    “BCBSA has long been committed to ensuring everyone has high quality, affordable healthcare coverage. We will continue to implement the law while working with policymakers to fix provisions that will increase costs, such as the health insurance tax that will add hundreds of dollars to families’ premiums each year. On behalf of our 100 million members, Blue companies will continue to lead efforts in their local communities — partnering with doctors, nurses, hospitals and others — to rein in costs, improve quality, help people stay well and better manage their care when they need it.” (President and CEO Scott P. Serota)

    Diets, Doctors and Obesity: Heavier Weight for Primary Care

    June 27th, 2012 by Patricia Donovan

    It’s only Wednesday, but it’s already been a weighty week for obesity.

    On Tuesday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that primary care doctors screen adult patients for obesity. The task force further suggested that healthcare professionals offer or refer obese persons to a comprehensive weight loss and behavior management program with 12 to 26 sessions in the first year.

    But what type of weight loss program is optimal, and what’s the most effective diet to follow? Separate studies appearing in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) offer some guidance for physicians in these areas.

    Researchers in the first study, in search of effective but resource-efficient weight loss treatments, compared a standard behavioral weight loss intervention (SBWI) with a stepped-care weight loss intervention (STEP). The JAMA article notes that stepped-treatment approaches customize interventions based on milestone completion and can be more effective while costing less to administer than conventional treatment approaches.

    All participants were placed on a low-calorie diet, prescribed increases in physical activity, and attended group counseling sessions ranging from weekly to monthly during an 18-month period. The SBWI group was assigned to a fixed program. Counseling frequency, type, and weight loss strategies could be modified every three months for the STEP group in response to observed weight loss as it related to weight loss goals.

    In addition to determining the mean change in weight over 18 months, the study also measured additional outcomes including resting heart rate and blood pressure, waist circumference, body composition, fitness, physical activity, dietary intake and cost of the program.

    Researchers concluded that among overweight and obese adults, the use of SBWI resulted in a greater mean weight loss than STEP over 18 months, but that compared with SBWI, STEP resulted in clinically meaningful weight loss that cost less to implement.

    But let’s back up a minute to that low-calorie diet both groups followed. The second published study found that not all calories — and low-calorie diets — are created equally. Researchers at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital studied the effects of three diets, each of which contained the same number of calories:

    • Low-fat, which is typically recommended by the U.S. government and American Heart Association, aims to reduce overall fat intake.
    • Low-carbohydrate, modeled after the Atkins diet, reduces almost all carbohydrate intake.
    • Low-glycemic, which aims to keep blood sugar levels steady by choosing natural foods and high-quality protein, carbohydrates and fats.

    Even though all three diets consisted of the same amount of calories, researchers determined that the low-glycemic diet came out on top: aside from helping to stabilize metabolism even after weight loss, existing research suggests that low-glycemic diets help people feel fuller longer and experience improved sense of well-being, as well as improved mental and physical performance.

    You can learn more about this research in Thriving, the Boston Children’s Hospital pediatric health blog.

    For Americans identified as overweight or obese and for the healthcare providers assigned to treat them, there are no easy solutions. I leave you with these thoughts from George A. Bray, MD, excerpted from his editorial on these obesity studies that appears in the same JAMA issue:

    Obesity is one of the most important and most frustrating health problems that physicians treat, and the studies in this issue of JAMA provide valuable information for clinicians who treat obese patients. It may be possible to have a more individualized approach to weight loss, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The most efficient treatment approach incorporates periodic reassessments and adjustment of the weight loss regimen based on a patient’s success at any given time. Although the exact relationship between dietary composition and weight maintenance remains unclear, calorie restriction is more important than diet composition in administering weight loss regimens.

    Disney To Curb Sugar, Salt in Parks, Products

    June 8th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

    What, no more super-sized popcorns and unlimited soda refills at Magic Kingdom?

    Maybe not, according to a statement just released by Disney. By 2015, the company will no longer advertise or promote a wide range of fast foods, sugared cereal, candy, drinks and other products considered unacceptable. As stated on their Web site,

    Under Disney’s new standards, all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored, or promoted on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online destinations oriented to families with younger children will be required by 2015 to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines. The nutrition guidelines are aligned to federal standards, promote fruit and vegetable consumption and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

    This ban extends to Disney’s theme parks, as well, where an estimated 12 million children’s meals are served each year. Disney plans to reduce the amount of sodium in these meals by 25 percent, and to limit sugar in foods to no more than 2.5 grams per 100 calories.

    The nutrition guidelines align to the federal dietary guidelines for Americans, and address the following criteria:

  • Do they contribute to a nutritious diet? i.e. fruit, vegetables, whole grain, low fat dairy, or lean protein?
  • Do they encourage kid-appropriate portions? i.e. calorie criteria
  • Do they limit ‘nutrients to avoid’? i.e. sodium, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat
  • Disney is the latest company to join in the anti-obesity campaign we first reported on in May when the IOM released a list of real world recommendations to combat the obesity epidemic. Included was the need to:

    reduce unhealthy food and beverage options while substantially increasing access to healthier food and beverages at competitive prices. The overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages must be reduced; calories substantially slashed in meals served to children while the number of affordable, healthier menu options is boosted significantly.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I traveled to a theme park recently, and I was struck by the legions of food counters available. It seemed as though we couldn’t walk a few hundred feet before encountering another food stand. Foods ranging from turkey legs to pizza to salted pretzels competed with rides and attractions for consumers’ attention. I just couldn’t help but wonder…wasn’t riding Aerosmith’s Rockn’ rollercoaster enough of a rush, without compounding it with a mega-slushy?

    This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a fair representation of healthier foods, like fruits, salads and low fat milks in the parks, but they were usually sold at a higher price than their unhealthier alternatives.

    But these unhealthy alternatives probably will not merit the “Mickey Check” tool, an icon that will call out nutritious food and menu items sold in stores, online, and at restaurants and food venues at its theme parks and resorts effective the end of this year.

    This isn’t the first time Disney has initiated nutritional guidelines; in 2006, Disney pioneered new, well-balanced kids’ meals served at its parks and resorts, which automatically included nutritious sides and beverages such as carrots and low-fat milk, unless parents opted out. Disney is now enhancing its efforts by further reducing sodium in kids’ meals and introducing new well-balanced kids’ breakfast meals.

    In addition to its nutritional efforts, Disney will introduce fun public service announcements throughout its parks inspiring and encouraging kids and families to live healthier lifestyles through better eating habits and fun activities.