- America needs a new blueprint to guide public health in the future, one that focuses on food and housing security, good schools and transportation, as well as healthcare, Karen DeSalvo, acting assistant secretary for health at HHS, and Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, wrote in Health Affairs Blog.
- Public Health 3.0 envisions a new roadmap with public health leaders at the wheel as chief health strategists for their communities.
- The plan also calls for cross-sector partnerships that engage employers, payers and other community stakeholders in supporting healthy populations.
This Public Health 3.0 blueprint would build on — not replace — earlier public health efforts that saw advances in vaccines and antibiotics, laboratory science, food and water safety and the professionalization and standardization of public health agencies, DeSalvo and Benjamin wrote.
“We must address the upstream drivers of health that touch everyone, no matter where they are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age,” the authors wrote. “Public health is the essential infrastructure for this work, but it needs to innovate, and in many ways, reinvent itself so that we have what it takes to ensure that the American people are healthy, ready, and competitive in this global economy.”
They note, for instance, that after decades of seeing life expectancy grow in the U.S., levels have been flat over the past three years and actually dropped in some areas.
Cross-sector partnerships to improve public health are already occurring across the country. “The traditional ‘silos’ of medical, behavioral and social services can’t meet the needs of our population alone,” Jim Hickman, CEO of Better Health East Bay, told Healthcare Dive recently. “Partnerships, enabled by technology and amplified by data-sharing, are the first step in changing the way we deliver care.”
Other steps in the Public Health 3.0 blueprint include ensuring that all public health departments are nationally accredited, giving communities access to “timely, reliable, granular-level … and actionable data” and establishing metrics to measure success of public health efforts, and creating more flexible and sustainable funding sources.