This Month's News
IOM: Primary care docs, public health pros should unite to improve health
A new Institute of Medicine report calls for primary care physicians and public health professionals to overcome the traditional gap separating their respective disciplines as a means of ensuring the health of populations.
The report recommends ways that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration could foster integration between primary care and public health through funding, policy levers, and other means.
Better collaboration would comprise sharing of data between professionals in the two disciplines to improve chronic disease prevention and treatment, reports American Medical News.
A related IOM report proposes that the nation double its investment in public health from $11.6 billion to $24 billion a year. The funding would bolster the work of public health departments and help the U.S. narrow the gap with the rest of the industrialized world in such markers as life expectancy and childhood mortality. The report notes that "Americans spent $8,086 per person in medical care in 2009 versus $251 in public health spending" (The Hill "Healthwatch" blog).
AMA policy supports better integration between medicine and public health; one policy calls on the AMA to work with public health leaders to "[develop] a conceptual framework that gives public health and medicine a common approach to health and illness. . . . integrat[e] health promotion and prevention services and activities into both the clinical and community settings . . . . [and] synthesize the knowledge of medicine and public health to improve the quality, effectiveness, and outcome measures of health care."