In the News: July 14–21

Kids Act Reduced Obesity Rates for Children in Poverty

A recent research publication shows that the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) has successfully reduced US obesity rates among impoverished children every year since the act was passed. HHFKA is a suite of policies that intend to improve the nutritional quality of food and beverages served to children in schools through several federal food assistance programs. These policies are essential for lower-income children, who tend to have more limited access to healthy food and higher risk for obesity.

After the implementation of HHFKA, for children overall, researchers found no significant trends over time in the likelihood of obesity and no significant results in being obese. However, impoverished children showed a significant reduction in the likelihood of developing obesity, in contrast to their odds before the act was implemented. This translates to a 47% reduction (approximately 500,000 fewer cases) in 2018 childhood obesity prevalence than what would have been expected without the HHFKA.

The HHFKA has made a significant impact on the lives of many children in poverty, which has resulted in reduced obesity prevalence, reduced risk of future chronic diseases and prevention of substantial health care costs. Chronic diseases, such as obesity, play a large role in health care utilization and costs, especially if it is caught and managed at an earlier stage. To learn more about how organizations are proactively defining their role in the complex social determinants of health landscape, please read the Sg2 report Social Determinants of Health: Stitching Together Solutions.

Difficulty Navigating Health Care Leads to Care Avoidance

A recent Healthcare Finance article highlights a new national survey finding that over half of consumers have avoided seeking care due to difficulty navigating the health care system. Conducted among 1,945 US adults in May 2020, the study explored consumer effort during their journey of finding, accessing and paying for health care.

The results indicate 53% of consumers have avoided care because they were not sure what it would cost. An overwhelming 85% of the participants also said it should be as easy to compare prices for health care as for other consumer services. Similarly, results show that patients are seeking a retail-like e-commerce experience when it comes to shopping for care.

Savvy health care consumers are increasingly making trade-offs as they shop for services. Quality, price, access and convenience are at the top of their lists. In response, many systems need to recalibrate their offerings by providing seamless access channels, reconnecting the consumer to the System of CARE and enhancing transparency. To learn how consumer expectations for care access have shifted and how to assess new demand models, please access the Sg2/HealthLeaders on-demand webinar Health Care Rebuilds: Financial Foundations–The New Access Economy by filling out the form, clicking “Register” and then clicking on the “URL” link on the next page.

Health System’s Digital Strategy Combats COVID-19

A recent Healthcare IT News article showcases the innovative efforts of Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System as it accelerated its digital strategy to not only care for COVID-19 patients, but also ensure its nonclinical staff was successfully moved to a predominantly remote environment.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, health systems across the US had to adapt to caring for infected patients, as well as more digital means of treating non–COVID-19 patients and keeping staff engaged. Geisinger, already invested in advancing its digital strategy, stepped up its efforts in 3 major ways: the system developed a mobile app to give guidance to emergency medical service communities and launched a contact-tracing program; it created a digital screening method to capture self-reported information from patients and expanded its virtual health availability; and it pivoted its nonclinical staff to work from home with technology tools and a robust IT infrastructure.

The health care industry has lagged behind others when it comes to innovation efforts to address problems in care processes, quality and costs. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, health care is ripe for innovation, and outside disrupters shouldn’t be the only ones reimaging care delivery. Learn how to assess your organization’s current innovation efforts and get guidance on your future initiatives in the Sg2 report Innovation.

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