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Task Force Starts with Population Health

When you’re trying to take on reformation of the complex and arcane system of health care in California, where do you even begin?

At population health, apparently.

The state’s recently formed “Let’s Get Healthy California” task force convened yesterday for the first of four scheduled webinars. The meetings are part of the task force’s plan to eventually organize the unruly health care system in California by creating a priority list and action plan for what needs to be done, according to Diana Dooley, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“What will it take for California to be the healthiest state in the nation, that’s what we’re going to look at today,” Dooley said at yesterday’s webinar. “How can we marshal the resources that are existing to help us? What measures are available, and what can we adopt or adapt to get us there?”

The first step, taken in yesterday’s meeting, was to look at statewide efforts to change health patterns.  

“Our overall purpose today is to identify our top priorities for disease prevention and population health,” said Ken Kizer, director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC-Davis and the moderator of yesterday’s webinar.

The state has decided to use federal guidelines, as outlined by last year’s “National Prevention Strategy,” which was issued by the Surgeon General’s Office.  

Those federal guidelines have seven areas of concentration. The task force last month narrowed that down to four subject areas, in order to make it more applicable to the health challenges in California, said Pat Powers, the task force’s director.

“The idea behind each webinar is to use existing national data to help in four topic areas,” Powers said. “The good news is, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, but we can focus on topics specific to California.”

The four topic areas are: smoking cessation; maintaining a healthy diet; promoting active living; and reducing injury and keeping homes violence-free. In addition, as outlined in the governor’s executive order that created the task force, the state will also promote higher immunization rates.

“We believe our modified national strategy better aligns us with the executive order, and it will give us a better opportunity to leverage federal funding,” Powers said.

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