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Keeping our population healthy

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The baby boomers are exploding with essential needs to address aging, disease management, end-of-life care and various health disparities. The millennial generations are becoming parents and remain indecisive about affordable and quality healthcare for their families.

We are grappling with the rapidly spiking rates of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Our population is in the greatest need it’s ever been for health management. We have reached the height at which we need to begin reversing this growing epidemic to become a healthier nation. We need to reshape our care delivery model and establish a roadmap to strengthen initiatives to manage our population’s health by providing wellness and prevention services.

According to the Center for Disease and Control, chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S. Wellness and preventive care is at the forefront of this evolving healthcare model that will improve quality outcomes for patients.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are beginning to align their top priorities and strategies with this new direction and physicians are listening to the emerging needs and expectations of consumers. It is a crucial endeavor to engage and communicate with our population through health risk assessments, screenings and educational workshops to promote public health initiatives. Keeping people healthy and out of hospitals is our objective.

According to the American Hospital Association, it is estimated by 2030; about 60 percent of boomers will experience more than one chronic health condition. A targeted investment in preventive care will yield higher results than we’ve been aiming for and potentially overturn this trend.

Promoting lifestyle changes and healthy behaviors such as physical activity, nutrition and exercise can all help reduce the risks of chronic disease. Preventive care supports people of all age. It is beneficial to parents who need better awareness about childhood immunizations, teenagers and young adults who need more education about hypertension and cholesterol screenings and for at-risk populations who should know about the risk factors associated with growing health issues.

A prevention approach that includes early detection, diagnosis and follow up care should all be part of this changing landscape. Today’s consumers are more intuitive and driven by an integrated continuum of care. They are looking for seamless access to a full suite of comprehensive services that includes multiple options and specialized care.

Patients want to be educated about prevention services, but also need care management for their illness and through all the stages of care. Through this new model of care, we need to provide a continuous and coordinated care plan.

Millennials will also begin to play a larger, more prominent role in our delivery systems as we have the opportunity to use this generation of youth who are better positioned to support change with greater access to information, technology, education and training.

They can help spread the message of wellness and prevention. We need to engage this generation to become ambassadors of preventive care. This is an opportunity to get in front of public health issues and promote awareness and health management from a young age and instill healthy behaviors.

The way we begin to lead into this new model will be critical to our success of managing our population’s health. As a nation, we must be open and willing to integrate our innovate ideas and unite to defeat disease.

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