Join the conversation: “Is This Public Health?”

andy-mychkovskyMy name is Andrew and I’m a hospital/health insurance strategy guy. Prior to school, I worked for a boutique health care management consulting firm and spent this past summer at Massachusetts General Hospital. I’m interested in payment innovation, which is why I work with one of the largest patient-centered medical homes in the nation. No one on paper would be better served to post about the importance of medical care. Except today I’m not.

Ever hear about the “80-20” rule? Not the rule pertaining to costly patients, but the rule stating that health insurance and health care account only for 20 percent of health outcomes (range is actually 10-20, but the nomenclature didn’t fit). Did you hear that? 80 percent of health is determined by everything other than medical care! We’re talking about education, housing, food, exercise, sanitation, income, etc.

The reason medical care dominates the health reform conversation can be answered with a single quote, “Authors write, readers read, money talks.” America spends more money on health care per capita than any other nation in the world. Political dialogue follows this trend. It is time to shift the lion share of the discussion towards factors responsible for the other 80 percent of status. In public health we call these “upstream factors” or “social determinants of health.” Regardless of what you call them, they matter. And two SPH graduate students are starting a new blog titled, “Is This Public Health?” to highlight this distinction.

This is your opportunity to keep up-to-date on issues.  The website is set to officially launch on January 31st. The blog encourages reader feedback and guest posting relevant to the issue at hand. Like their Facebook page here, follow them on Twitter @isthispubhealth here, and start brainstorming topics to write about. Together we can change the conversation on what really affects health.

Andy Mychkovsky is a second year HMP student at the School of Public Health.

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