Health Article Summary

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#1 Access to Health Care: Improving Overall Health Status

Workplace equality is important. One of the 42 topic areas in Healthy People 2020 that caught my attention as one of the most critical objectives in achieving a national goal of healthy Americans in the future is access to health care. But, exactly, what does “access to health care” imply? According to Gulliford et al. (2002), facilitating access to health is concerned with assisting people in commanding appropriate health care resources in order to maintain or improve their health status; however, gaining access to healthcare is hampered by a number of factors such as financial, organizational, social, and cultural barriers that allow or limit the use of services. As a result, having a large number of accessible health services is not a factor in improving the quality of healthcare in and of itself, but rather the use of such services by all individuals. It will be determined by the service’s price and general accessibility.

Access to high-quality health care, according to Healthy People 2020 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012), is essential for attaining health equity and, eventually, improving the overall health of all Americans. This, in my view, is one of the most important measures the state can do in order to achieve the objective of having healthy Americans by 2020, which includes all migrants, ethnic groups, and minorities. Though free service is not always the key to having access to quality healthcare, the state can certainly find ways, such as moving funds to have affordable medical insurance to cover all Americans, so that everyone in America can access healthcare services as needed to improve health by making it available and accessible to everyone at the same time.

Health Article Summary

Poor access to healthcare also means poor health outcomes for the population. Take, for example, Texas, which, according to a survey, has the highest number of uninsured people in the country and a significant shortage of health care professionals, making access to healthcare services difficult for them and resulting in poor overall health outcomes (Code Red Texas, 2012). Although attaining total equality of access to healthcare will take time, the government should start making substantial progress toward the objective of healthy people by 2020. Government money should be directed first and foremost toward providing affordable health care to even the poorest of Americans. This may seem difficult since it appears to waste money and provide insurance that no one can use, but with good planning, this step will actually reduce overall national health expenditures because no one will be left behind in terms of being healthy and having access to healthcare.

References:
  • Code Red Texas (2012) Code Red; the critical condition of health in Texas 2012. Retrieved from  http://www.coderedtexas.org/files/Code-Red-2012.pdf   
  • Gulliford M., Figueroa-Munoz J., Morgan M., Hughes D., Gibson B., Beech R. & Hudson M. (2002) What does ‘access to healthcare’ mean? Journal of  Health Services & Research Policy, 1 July 2002 vol. 7 no. 3 186-188, Doi: 10.1258/135581902760082517
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

#2 The Determinants of Health: Factors that Affect Population Health

            The differences of health status in population is greatly affected by many factors such as personal, social and environmental factors that are deemed to be determinants of health for these factors that influences the health conditions of individuals or group of people in a given population (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).  Of all the determinants of health, social factors play the most important role in influencing the health status of a population.  In a personal point of view, comparing social against environmental factors, even though people in a population lives in a community that pose potential health dangers, the adaptability of man makes a person adjust to such hazards. Social determinants of health, on the other hand, include the availability of resources to meet daily needs, such as educational and job opportunities, living wages, or healthy foods—basically, a person’s way of life, which I believe is the most important factor nowadays for a person to be able to access health services.  It also seems nowadays that living healthy to prevent diseases depends on the socio economic status of a person such as availing healthy foods and medicines.  In the field of nursing, it cannot be denied that most people nurses encounter availing of health care are the ones belonging to average and above socio economic status if not having medical insurances. Having the resources to avail healthcare is a great factor in being healthy.  Taking for example in Texas, wherein health insurance coverage is very low due to inability to avail of such health insurances secondary to low socioeconomic status of most Texans.  As a result 2,500 Uninsured Texans die every year reflecting a poor state health status (Code Red Texas, 2012).  Speaking on regard of the socio economic factors as determinants of health one of the best ways is to target economic stability.  The state actions should be directed to tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources (World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008, p. 14).  This means the state should determine social factors of poor health outcomes and plan an action through funding such as providing opportunities of higher income by investing on businesses that would higher the economic status of the state and promoting social responsibility on every individual that would support the inequity through ample taxes to cover the deficit for the mean time. 

References:
  • Code Red Texas (2012) Code Red; the critical condition of health in Texas 2012. Retrieved from  http://www.coderedtexas.org/files/Code-Red-2012.pdf   
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx
  • World Health Organization, Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) Closing the gap in a generation; Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Commission on Social Determinants of Health Executive Report. WHO Press; Geneva, Switzerland. 

#3 Health Communications: Understanding Health at Its Best

            The goal of health communication strategies and health information technology according to Healthy People 2020 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012) is to improve population outcome and health care quality and further achieve health equity.  Communication is an important tool in channeling information that people desires other people to know through the use of communication tools such as pamphlets, posters, television, and many more.  As what communication was described by Rimal & Lapinski (2009) in an article posted in the WHO bulletin, communication is at the heart of who we are as human beings. It is our way of exchanging information.  Without communication our life will be a riot because no one would ever understand another. 

            In terms of health communication in the era of technological advancement wherein most people deal with computers with much of their daily activities I have decided to analyze one of the most sought web site in terms of health information according to internet surveys, the Web MD (2012) which can be accessed online.  Web MD from a personal assessment caters to all people not just for health care practitioners for the information it bears is very basic and simple thus understandable that even common people can easily get the hint of the basic concepts regarding a certain disease.  The pictures included are very basic just to add color to the gray surface of mostly words but the pictures does not imply further information but just to show the system involved in a certain disease which could have been more easily understandable for non healthcare readers to understand the concept if they have figures of representation.  The reading of the text within the web site according to SMOG index analysis is 5.2 (Readability formula, 2012) that can be understood even by sixth graders therefore it is easily understood so the communication process is hardly barred even if the person does not have background in health, nursing or medicine.  The website tackles purely on health concerns and is free of cultural barriers not bias.  Health communication tools such as web MD  is really a great help to disseminate health information essential for people to know what could be happening to their health and what needs to be done which are all included there.  In this way people are given the knowledge to take over their health and when to seek needed consult thus better health outcome will be observed.

References:
  • Readability Formula (2012) Text Readability Consensus Calculator.  Retrieved from http://www.readabilityformulas.com/free-readability-formula-tests.php
  • Rimal R. & Lapinski M. (2009) Why health communication is important in public health.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2009;87:247-247. doi: 10.2471/BLT.08.056713
  • Web MD (2012) retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/default.htm
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

#4 MAP-IT Formula: Tracking the Roads to Health Equity

            Texas among all the states of America has the most number of uninsured individual thus healthcare access is mostly a common problem.  According to a statistic presented by Code Red Texas (2012), there are 2,500 uninsured Texans who die prematurely each year; 1 million uninsured Texans who do not receive adequate care for their chronic diseases and; 3 million uninsured Texans who are less likely to seek and receive preventative and screening services that minimize more costly medical care later.  This statistic shows the poor health outcome of Texan populace that can be attributed to poor access to healthcare secondary to low level economic status. 

            By using the MAP-IT formula formulated by Healthy People 2020 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012) designed to plan and evaluate interventions to achieve better health outcomes.  MAP-IT—mobilize, assess, plan, implement and track, stands for social moves or steps to undertake to help bring change in a community that will surely improve the health status of a community. Mobilizing an act is the first step of the process by this one should think of better partners such as people or social group that has the same vision of bringing societal change.  For example in Texas, the School of Rural public health that has the mission to expand the practice of public health by improving the current public health status though activities and program can be utilized by social action groups (Texas Health Science Center, 2012), this way more people will be moving to make the change achievable and faster.   

            Assessment is a key role in healthcare, by assessment a person can assess the options that he has over the options that he wants to achieve.  By virtue of assessing what the community has and what else is needed thus careful and essential planning is made.  Planning on the other side sets goals, and provides actions that will be implemented that would meet the goal intended that will be later tracked as an evaluation whether the goals were met as planned (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).    

            Texas that has emerging health problems arising from low level of health access should mobilize state organizations and social organizations to assess the problems why such problems exist and come up with a careful planning to act upon later that will formulate a policy to make sure every Texan will be provided with a health insurance to address the poor health accessibility and further level up the health status of the community.  By following the MAP IT steps careful promulgation and implementation of needed action to target specific health problems will be achieved fully but only if every person will take in the social responsibility to act and end the evolving health problems.    

References:
  • Code Red Texas (2012) Code Red; the critical condition of health in Texas 2012. Retrieved from  http://www.coderedtexas.org/files/Code-Red-2012.pdf   
  • Texas Science Health Center (2012) Public Health practice Program. Retrieved from http://srph.tamhsc.edu/special-programs/practice-programs.html
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

#5 Health Care Reform: Changing in Controversy

            Health care reforms are targeted to bring about betterment in the way health care is served in a nation.  It simply changing for what the government thinks is for the better to better improve the quality of health of all the people.  Just recently, the Supreme Court held three days of hearings on challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill pushed by President Obama and was actually passes years ago by the congress in March of 2010 (Andrews, 2012).  The passing of the Affordable care act into a law that was signed on March 23, 2010 paved way for comprehensive reforms that has improved access to affordable health coverage for everyone and protect the consumers from abusive insurance company practices.  It allows all Americans to make a health insurance choice and guaranteeing access to care and has provided lower cost health care thus improved the quality of care according to The White House web site (2012). 

            Access to healthcare is one of the key topics to achieve the vision of Healthy People 2020 and is an important determinant of a person’s health thus accessibility of healthcare is a key role too in improving the status of health (US Department of Health and Human Services).  With the affordable care act, accessibility of healthcare is now achieved.  Seeking health care is no longer a problem since every person is provided with equality in access to health services though the use of a likewise affordable medical insurance system.  If the law will flourish further it will further affect the health of the community by improving the general health status of the community.  As a proof of better access to health care as of now there are 54 million Americans now that can receive a free preventive service that a typical uninsured person will not undertake (The White House, 2012) and the new law will benefit most preferably the 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured in putting healthcare in their hands and controlling their own healthcare.  In the sweeter end of the said law individuals are benefited more as well as strengthening the insurance companies against fraud and saving national budget in the long run especially in the health expenditures because better national health outcomes and healthier Americans are deemed in the future by virtue of the law.

References:
  • Andrews S. (2012, March 26) Health Care Reform and the Supreme Court. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/supreme_court/affordable_care_act/index.html  
  • The White House (2012) A More Secure Future: What the New Health Law Means for You and Your Family. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx

#6 Evaluating a Health Promotion Program

            To achieve the goal of achieving healthy American people by the year 2020, Healthy People 2020 have formulated a step in gradually bringing about change in the health status of the community by Mobilizing partners, assessing the needs of the community, creating and implementing a plan to reach the goal set and tracking the plan’s progress along the process (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).  Since Texas has the highest number of uninsured people thus having poor health status among all the states, a socially driven Task Force named Code Red was made for health promotion and improvement of the quality of Texan healthcare (Code Red Texas, 2012).  Code Red is a task force represented a nonpartisan group sponsored by all 10 of the major academic health institutions in Texas, including Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, North Texas, and the six health institutions of The University of Texas System and also representative from large and small employers, hospitals, medical schools, health policy experts and community leaders.  The inclusion of many members to act upon a change falls under the mobilize step in the MAP-IT steps.  With mobilization of groups movement to change is not limited to one group alone thus the movement will take much faster.   

            Assessment step is taken by the task force after collecting data, taking for example the problem of uninsured in Texas, code red identifies and assess the magnitude of the problem and later plans from the evidenced-based results of collated and collected data then further makes recommendations for consideration by policymakers. The assessment, planning, and implementation go hand in hand in process. The actual implementation will actually take action after the policymakers have taken their recommendations for promulgation of better policies to address the problem.  Code red is a good representation of a health promotion program intended to change or solve existing health problems that follows the systematic plan of approach such as the MAP-IT plan though actions are not always surely implemented.  The success of the program relies not on the result of the assessment for change but largely depend on the policy makers to bring about further solution through policies.  Code red health promotion is indeed promising implemented program to bring about more changes in health outcomes but the degree of success will not depend solely on the group but more of a coercive effort and social mutual understanding that the change recommended is for the good of all the community so none will object the proposal for change.      

            Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health but participation is essential to sustain health promotion action (WHO,1986).  If a community does not see the need, it will not be met of health promotions and health promotion actions the likelihood of not succeeding is very likely thus active participation is a key that can be achieved by making the community understand the situation and what problems could arise though the process of communication.  

References:
  • Code Red Texas (2012) Code Red; the critical condition of health in Texas 2012. Retrieved from  http://www.coderedtexas.org/files/Code-Red-2012.pdf   
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (2012) Healthy People 2020 retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx
  • World Health Organization (WHO) (1986) Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Health Promotion Glossary, Geneva.

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