Healthy People 2020, an initiative of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is now in the Action Phase in which objectives are being debated and developed to continue the tradition of earlier Healthy People initiatives of advocating for improvements in the health of every person in our country. If you are in the health space, your agency, organization or business has a stake in its outcome as this is a primary Federal policy-making tool. The Mission for HP 2020, as outlined in the Framework document is:
To improve health through strengthening policy and practice, Healthy People will:
* Identify nationwide health improvement priorities;
* Increase public awareness and understanding of the determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress;
* Provide measurable objectives and goals that can be used at the national, state, and local levels;
* Engage multiple sectors to take actions that are driven by the best available evidence and knowledge;
* Identify critical research and data collection needs.
Several guest contributors and I have been writing about Health Communication (HC), Social Marketing and Health Information Technology (HIT) issues that HP 2020 should address on this blog. In the past week, two teleconferences have been held to open up the process of HC and HIT objective development to all interested parties. In these calls, some of the major points that were raised were:
- The adoption of a social determinants framework signals that objectives should not only address individual decisions and practices that increase or decrease the risk of disease and disability, but also the physical and social environments that contribute to, or protect against, diseases and disabilities.
- Objectives should also consider a life course approach to their development where Life Stages are used to divide the life course into discrete blocks (e.g., infancy, childhood, etc.) to facilitate monitoring and interventions and Developmental Stages are used as a way to examine the impact of early life experiences and exposures on health status later in life.
- The current Health Communication objectives need to be reviewed to see which ones are still salient and relevant as we move into the next decade. For example, is ‘at home use of the internet’ still what to focus on for the next ten years, or should we be thinking about mobile broadband internet access for all people? Is disclosure on health websites still important, and if so, how does this objective need to be adjusted to focus on the world of 2020? Preliminary recommendations about HC/HIT objectives from the work group are due 11 March 2009 (see below for more information about how to join).
- Data sources against which to set baselines, benchmarks and outcomes are a critical need (and in short supply) for many health communication, social marketing and HIT objectives. We need to have steady and reliable sources of data to measure progress over the next decade for any objectives that are proposed.
- What new areas do we need to create objectives for – social marketing, risk communication, global health programs (health diplomacy), personal health records, security and privacy of wireless data exchange?
The conversations have begun. One of the most open and collaborative approaches to national health policy development yet devised, an online work space for the HC and HIT discussions and objective-setting, will be available by Monday, February 23.
If you would like to participate, you need to send an email by 12PM EST on Friday, February 20, 2009 to receive a user name and password [or copy and paste into your email address line HP2020HC_HIT@hhs.gov]. On Monday you will receive your user name and password so you can start making recommendations regarding the health communication and health IT objectives right away. You will also receive weekly emails to notify you of new blog posts and discussion.