Tuesday, April 11, 2017

National Academy of Medicine - Vital Directions for Health and Health Care


Every once in awhile, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as IOM, the Institute of Medicine) has published an era-defining paper or book (for example: To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System (2000) and Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America (2013)).

On March 21, 2017, they issued a new report: Vital Directions for Health and Health Care (2017). It is the culmination of many workgroups over the past year or so. It brings together the thinking of a wide range of experts.

NAM Vital Directions - Overall Summary: Vision, Goals, Actions, Infrastructure

Better Health & Well-Being

A strong message of the report is to focus on better health and to look broadly at what that means and what leads to good health. 

Determinants of Health

NAM Vital Directions - Figure 5: The leading health determinants.
SOURCE: Adapted from McGinnis, 2002

The usual reaction to improving health is to jump to care as the primary driver of health. However, there is growing recognition that our health, and the health of the population as a whole, depends on much more: our genetics, our behavior and our social and physical environment. While the healthcare system can provide decisive intervention at critical moments, there are many other factors that must also be addressed. We have to address acute crises, chronic conditions as well as economic, social and educational status and access to services and information. Living a good life is about acting on the values of the individual and broad support provided by their multiple communities.

McGinnis, J. M., P. Williams-Russo, and T. R. Knickman. 2002. The case for more active policy attention to health promotion. Health Affairs 21(2):78–93.

An earlier post put forward the interaction of being, doing and environment. It reframes the determinants into three areas of influence - our inner experience, our actions and the world around us.

The Action Priorities 

The report has a long list of action priorities. Here are a few highlights.
  • Pay for value - Deliver better health and better results for all
  • Remove barriers to integration of social services with medical services
  • Link care and personal context
  • Ensure patient data access, ownership and privacy
  • Connect Care - Implement seamless digital interfaces for best care
  • Measure What Matters Most - Use consistent core metrics to sharpen focus and performance
  • Accelerate Real-World Evidence - Derive evidence from each care experience
  • Foster a culture of data sharing by strengthening incentives and standards
Future posts will address these and other areas of the report.