The Institute for Population Health and health care Reform
Vernice D. Anthony: I am very excited about the future of health care for our community. All we have been hearing about in the past is the poor statistics on our health status, rising health care cost, health disparities. But there is good news on the horizon that will significantly improve access to care, quality and cost. I am referring to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nationally, and the creation of the Institute for Population Health (IPH) in Detroit.
Loretta V. Davis: As fiscal crises have impacted many state and local health agencies across the country, it has been imperative that all public health system develop partnerships to develop more cost effective ways to accomplish the shared goal of improving the public’s health.
During the last ten years, the City of Detroit’s general fund budget for public health decreased from a high of $37 million to a low of $4.1 million. This decline in funding reduced staffing and put the quality of services and the health of residents at risk.
Simply put, continuing the health department as it was, was not an option that the city or the health of its residents could afford. The Institute for Population Health (IPH), a 501(c)(3) public health institute, was developed to address these issues, ensure the provision of quality public health services in Detroit into the future, and to become a center for population health innovation.
The mission of the IPH is to maximize positive health conditions in populations and communities through collaboration, scientific inquiry, and the application of scientific health practices.
Anthony: The IPH opened its doors on October 1, 2012. How is the IPH benefiting the community?
Thanks to the Mayor Dave Bing’s support and the visionary IPH leadership team, the benefits of the IPH to the community include quality public health service provision and much more. The IPH is now one of only five city-level public health institutes in the country, joining the ranks of public health institutes in New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
As a new public health institute, the IPH is dedicated to improving the availability and quality of population health, personal health and human services by fostering innovation, leveraging resources and building partnerships across public and private sectors; and we are already making progress.
Anthony: That is really remarkable. Give me some examples of the progress you have already made.
Davis: In only eight months of operation, the IPH has seen amazing results in both finance and service provision. With the establishment of the IPH, administrative costs were reduced, allowing for greater efficiency in service delivery.
Almost 5 million additional dollars became immediately available for essential public health services. The IPH has also retained more than 200 jobs in Detroit and is attracting new young professional talent.
With renewed focus on putting the people we serve first, the numbers served in many IPH clinics are more than double the numbers served in the same clinics in previous years. In October 2012, during the very first month of IPH operations, the Social Hygiene Clinic saw 885 patients, as compared to 350 patients seen in the Social Hygiene Clinic during October 2011. There was also a forty-eight percent (48%) increase in HIV counseling and testing.
Since October 1, 2012, IPH pediatric dentistry has served more than 1,075 children; IPH family planning, over 2,570 people; Children’s Special Health Care, 2,700 children; and the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, more than 75,916 families.
Additionally, the IPH is actively engaged in a variety of community and academic partnerships and has some new and innovative projects in development. So, there is much more to come from the IPH.
Anthony: With regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and health care reform, what is it that you think the community and policy makers need to know?
Davis: The IPH is excited to be providing public health services and growing as a public health institute at such a historic time. The ACA will shift our health system from one that focuses on caring for the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy and well.
There are over 1,149,911 uninsured people in our state, and nearly 50% reside in Southeast Michigan (US Census Bureau, 2011). Of the uninsured living in Southeast Michigan, the vast majority reside in Wayne County.
This means we have a lot of work to do to prepare ourselves and our communities to assure the maximum enrollment possible as a result of the ACA. Approval of Governor Snyder’s “Healthy Michigan Plan” to increase Medicaid coverage is the first step.
Anthony: What do businesses need to know about how these improvements in health care will impact our economy?
Davis: When we invest in keeping people healthy, we are investing in a productive society and a strong economy. We have not even begun to realize the benefits of creating a society in which health and wellness are the norm. The Healthy Michigan Plan and the ACA will undoubtedly benefit all Michigan residents.
Many employers cannot afford to cover their employees, so the ACA will be creating a healthier workforce. It will be a win for uninsured residents, hospitals, insurance companies, businesses, and our state as whole.
Anthony: What can we all do to help in this effort?
Davis: Support the Healthy Michigan Plan.(www.ReformMedicaidMi.com) Get educated about the ACA. Prepare for the Health Insurance Exchanges. And last, but certainly not least, improve your own healthy lifestyle…..our community can be no healthier than our population.
Anthony: Any closing comments?
Davis: While we know that there is no silver bullet, and healthcare reform is a”process” with a long road ahead, and many complexities. We have much to learn along this road. The IPH is open to and looks forward to new funding and strategic partnership opportunities to contribute to the improvement of health care in Michigan and to population health innovation in the United States.
Loretta V. Davis, MSA, is the founding president and CEO of the Institute for Population Health. Vernice D. Anthony, BSN, MPH, is the director and health officer of the City of Detroit - Department of Health and Wellness Promotion.