The movement to improve population health is not a fad, but a reflection of the changes taking place in the health care system. And as long as health care continues on a path toward value-based care, public health efforts are going to increasingly be a part of that movement.
So, while it’s worth taking a stand in favor of giving more attention to public health and the funding of governmental public health, efforts in effect to transform how public health is managed also deserve some support, particularly during Public Health Week. Programs like the American Hospital Association’s NOVA Award, which highlights successful community partnerships, are chipping away at the problem of finding public health strategies and tactics that work best.
The newly launched Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is another of the efforts underway to give public health more prominence in the growing population health movement. The challenge gives small-to-medium-sized communities an opportunity and a reason to jump-start their public health transformation.
A partnership between the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Counties and the Aetna Foundation, the challenge will recognize cities, counties and federally recognized tribes that were most able to have measurable changes in health and wellness with a $10,000 grant, with a total of $1.5 million in money available.
An advisory board was formed to judge the finalists that includes experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AARP, according to an APHA news release.
The intent is that the money going to the winners will go toward innovation, particularly in forming partnerships with other organizations, says Susan Polan, associate executive director of public affairs and advocacy for the APHA, in a telephone interview. “We need to work across sectors and across partners and across levels,” Polan says. No one organization or type of organization is going to be able to do it alone, she says.