Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fruits and Vegetables Should be Desirable and Affordable

Today the Alliance released the 2014 Healthy Americas Survey, a bilingual phone survey with a nationally representative sample of 846 respondents fielded from February 16th to March 2nd of this year. The Downloadable version of the 2014 Healthy Americas Survey is available at the Alliance’sHealthy Americas Institute website at www.healthyamericasinstitute.org

The findings show that access to care is part of the solution for achieving the best health outcomes for all. While there are obvious steps people can take which are critical, e.g., drinking less soda and sugary drinks and eating more fruits and vegetables, these options are not as simple as they may appear.

There is a huge amount of creative talent and dollars that are spent on getting people to buy sugary drinks. It would be wonderful if we could spend as much on advertising for fruits and vegetable and other healthy options as is spent on options that are not as healthy.  While PSAs are helpful they are few and far between and often play in the off-hours to fill in the time when no one wants to buy advertising time. Moreover, fresh fruits and vegetables are often financially out of reach for families with modest means.

We need to make it desirable and easier for everyone to eat in a healthier way.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It’s Not About the Base— It’s About Quality

Quality health outcomes are not just about the denominator, big data, or public health data; it is about the individual. The allure of numbers is strong because numbers can be analyzed and the implication is that the data are objective. Nevertheless, our quest for precise data and measurements is often futile as too many times visually intoxicating three-dimensional charts tell us nothing about what is happening at the point of care.

Our measurement system must be radically different from what it is today. We should stop using the medical, economic, or business derived terms of “patient” or “consumer”  and focus on the person or individual. For the first time, technology and individual use of powerful computing devices (smartphones) give us the capacity to move beyond groups to individual focus.  

At the very least quality health measures should be publicly reported and include more mortality and morbidity outcomes. Additionally measures must be sufficiently nimble to:

  1. Rapidly reflect new science.  
  2. Rapidly include new technologies.
  3. At a minimum be analyzed by race, ethnicity, and gender.
  4. Encourage care that is tailored to the individual.
  5. Avoid the tyranny of big data when caring for the individual.
  6. Address that quality is defined in different ways by each person. 
Our future care depends on having measures that matter to each one of us.