As clinic providers look for ways to improve the quality of life of their patients at the community level, one major resource that they should contact their district health department is. There are many resources and skills that health departments will share with doctors and other providers that will improve their ability to improve the health of their patients.
In my work I have had many hours working with the chief pathologist at the Kent County Department of Health in Michigan. Brian Hartl. Through my contacts and initial research in epidemiology I have found that health departments specialize in providing health services at the community level. This compares with many clinical providers who do well in dealing with their patients at a face-to-face level. Both medical office staff and health department staff are concerned about the health of individuals and groups of people.
Nurses often work with people during face-to-face meetings. They treat this disease or injury individually at a time. For example, if a doctor is treating a patient with hypertension, he or she will arrange a course of treatment with that person in mind. When a doctor looks at the quality of people in his work, then he looks at how the treatment and the instructions he gives affect the group of his patients. For example, she can imagine how effective she is in treating her patients with joint hypertension.
The patients of the district health department are the people of the district. In only a few cases where health departments treat individuals at a time. Much of their work would not be considered a clinical intervention. However, their work affects the whole community. For example, health departments are responsible for ensuring that food in restaurants is handled and cooked properly. Health departments monitor infectious disease reports to identify clusters or potential outbreaks, such as measles, to encourage the community and medical teams to respond and prevent further transmission.
Can these health groups benefit each other from improving the health of their patients and, if so, how? I recently talked to Brian Hartl about this and he shared ideas that I believe can help clinic providers do a better job. As a sociologist, Mr. Hartl sees much of his work as environmental protection. In the emerging world of folk medicine it is important for physicians and other clinicians to focus on prevention and prevention of chronic diseases, such as the prevention of pre-diabetes patients with progressive diabetes, and the prevention of juvenile delinquency in patients and other drugs, including tobacco. The Kent County Department of Health has a number of resources that can help doctors achieve their goals and are more willing to work with clinical teams. In fact, KCHD currently has a grant that can be used to improve patients’ chances of preventing chronic diseases, reducing risk or being managed in consultation with clinics and the community.
Mr. Hartl believes there are opportunities to work with physicians to establish a system for determining healthy lifestyle activities and lifestyles as non-clinical interventions for the prevention / management of chronic diseases. For example, the Kent County Department of Health has been involved in helping communities improve access to unprotected areas in Grand Rapids City. He thinks that patients with chronic illnesses can benefit greatly if they start working on the go. He intends to share maps and information about the location of such routes so that the doctor can establish a patient’s travel plan and point them to the nearest routes that they can easily find.
The Kent County Department of Health has been involved in partnering with community partners to bring fresh food to local areas where fresh fruits and vegetables are available. These are known as ‘food deserts’ and often have only grocery stores on the ‘fast market’ with only box food, such as those found at most petrol stations. His team is working with such vendors in the community to overcome obstacles in providing fresh food. Mr. Hartl is committed to partnering with medical teams in new community food centers so that doctors can inform their patients about those areas and improve their eating habits.
These are just two examples of the information that the health department intends to share with clinical groups so that their patients can access healthy, effective lifestyles. Apart from the details, the health departments have a useful public contact. For example, the Kent County Department of Health is working with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, which has a nationally recognized Diabetes Prevention Program that helps prevent people diagnosed with prediabetes from developing diabetes. The health department also liaises with community educators, the Grand Rapids Urban League and defense groups that focus on preventing alcohol and other drug abuse.
As you can see there are many resources available in health departments. Will it benefit clinic providers to get these services? I believe that access to these services will help doctors and other clinic providers significantly improve the quality of life for their patients. Also, it will help to improve patient outcomes at the community level. This is especially important for groups with risk-based contracts with private payers and those who serve patients covered by Medicare. According to an article in Modern Healthcare dated 16 January 2015, approximately 40% of all private payer contracts are a current incentive; those with such contracts need to focus on quality human life.
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