Dr. Sean Haley, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and a colleague conducted a statewide assessment of New York’s community health centers’ population health activities to understand how the activities align with the state’s Prevention Agenda. The findings were published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
[Photo: Dr. Sean Haley]
The U.S. spends just 5 percent of its health care budget to prevent morbidity and mortality. This study surveyed N.Y. State community health centers’ population health activities aligned with the N.Y. Prevention Agenda (response rate of 72 percent).
The authors developed an electronic survey instrument that was distributed to all 64 licensed community health centers in New York State. The survey assessed: 1) respondent contact information and the center’s general approach to population health efforts, 2) information about each focus area, and 3) technical support needs.
The survey asked about their activities across the 16 focus areas corresponding to the five N.Y. Prevention Agenda priority areas. The five priority areas include: 1) preventing chronic disease, 2) creating safe environments, 3) promoting health among women and children, 4) promoting mental health/preventing substance abuse, and 5) reducing HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
More than half of community health centers considered population health a high priority. Chronic disease and reducing preventable infections were the leading activity areas. One third of activities were dedicated to patient treatment follow-up. Community health centers reported that more than two-thirds of all activities received no funding. Despite a commitment to population health among community health centers’, widespread improvements in population health may remain limited without an increase in dedicated funding to support community-based prevention strategies.