While health care providers are looking for ways to improve the health of their patients at the population level, they need to use an important resource – the district health department. Health services will share with physicians and other health care providers a variety of resources and skills that will improve their ability to improve the health of their patients.
In my work, I had many opportunities to work with Mr. Brian Hartle, Chief Epidemiologist of the Kent County Department of Health, Michigan. Through these contacts and an introductory course in epidemiology, I have found that health departments are experts in providing public health services. This contrasts with most health care providers who do well in personal work with their patients. Both medical staff and medical staff take care of the health of individuals and groups of people.
Clinicians usually work with people through face-to-face meetings. They take turns treating a person’s illness or injury. For example, if a doctor treats a patient with hypertension, he will plan treatment with that person in mind. When a doctor takes into account the population in her work, she considers the effects of treatment and the instructions she gives to a group of her patients. For example, she may think about how effectively she collectively treats her patients with hypertension.
Patients of the regional health service are the population of the region. Only in some cases do health services treat people one at a time. Most of their work will not be considered clinical intervention. However, their work is important for the population as a whole. For example, health services have a responsibility to ensure that food in restaurants is processed and prepared properly. Health services monitor reports of infectious diseases to identify clusters or potential outbreaks, such as measles, to mobilize communities and groups of physicians to respond and prevent further transmission.
These are just two examples of information that the health service is willing to share with clinical groups so that their patients can lead healthy and active lives. In addition to information, health services also have contacts with local communities that can be helpful. For example, the Kent County Department of Health is working with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, which has a nationally recognized diabetes program that helps prevent the development of diabetes in people with prediabetes. The Department of Health also liaists with local educators, the Grand Rapids Urban League and substance abuse prevention groups.
As you can see, there are a lot of resources available to health services. Will access to these resources be useful for doctors? I believe that access to these resources will help doctors and other health care providers significantly improve the quality of life of their patients. It will also help improve patient outcomes at the population level. This is very important for groups that have contracts based on risk assessments with private payers and those who serve Medicare patients. According to an article on modern health care dated January 16, 2015, about 40% of all retail payment contracts are now based on incentives; those who have such contracts should focus on public health.
The Health Department has extensive information about patient-centered homes with patient care coordinators. One of the responsibilities of these coordinators is to train patients in community resources that can be helpful to them. The Ministry of Health is an excellent source of such information.
The goals of health care providers remain to provide safe and quality care for their patients, while their management staff strives to improve their performance. With the advent of risk-based contracts that dictate community-based health care management, I believe that county health departments can do a lot to help health care providers achieve their goals.