The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Preventative Services in Health Care
Americans could save billions of dollars annually in health care costs per year if they would follow preventative health care practices. Nurses place a critical part in alerting and educating those in their care to these measures that can help them live healthier and happier lives.
Preventative services are often provided by nurses and do not involve extra costs for Americans. Over 20 health care services provided primarily by nurses are considered preventative. These include a long list of childhood immunizations and screenings for cancer, cholesterol, depression and hypertension, commonly called high blood pressure. Key services include tobacco cessation work, including behavioral therapy and nicotine replacement, counseling regarding daily aspirin intake for high-risk heart patients, and alcohol abuse screenings and brief therapy.
Research indicates that if 90% of the population had access to preventative measures, 100,000 lives per year would be saved. Tobacco, alcohol abuse and aspiring screenings have led to more than $1 billion in additional savings.
Providing free preventative services is a relatively new idea as prior to 2010 only half of American adults had received preventative services. Research also indicates that many Americans have put off preventative screenings because of excessive costs. The novelty of screenings and their costs combine to scare away many who should receive these services.
Childhood immunizations by far provide the most benefit, saving 1,233.1 life years per 10,000 individuals. Costs are also minimal as these screenings cost only 1% of the total amount spent on American health care, translating to $61.9 billion annually. These figures don’t even take into account future savings, meaning even more money can be saved.
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HOW NURSES SAVE LIVES WITH PREVENTATIVE SERVICES
Adopting simple, proven preventative practices could save Americans billions in health care costs and lengthen lives. Nurses trained in basic screenings and counseling can have profound impacts.
INTRODUCING PREVENTATIVE SERVICES
Designed to help individuals avoid illness and improve health
No additional service costs
Services provided by trained nurses
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The term “preventative services” is often used as a catch-all term, so IDENTIFYING PROVEN PREVENTATIVE SERVICES IS KEY
EXAMINING THE PREVENTATIVE SERVICES PACKAGE
20 proven preventative services
Screenings: Cancer, Cholesterol, Depression, Hypertension
KEY PREVENTATIVE SERVICES
TOBACCO CESSATION SERVICES
Speaking with a counselor to identifying triggers
DAILY ASPIRING INTAKE FOR HIGH-RISK PATIENTS
Discussion of intake
Identifying why intake may be below/above what is necessary
Researchers note that IF 90% of the population HAD ACCESS TO THESE PROCEDURES, then each intervention alone would result in than 100,000 LIFE YEARS SAVED
Also, 3 OF THE 4 INTERVENTIONS (tobacco, alcohol abuse screening and aspirin) have individually contributed more than $1 BILLION TO net additional MEDICAL SAVINGS
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVIDING FREE PREVENTATIVE SERVICES
The notion of providing preventative services is RELATIVELY NEW
Prior to 2010, ONLY HALF of U.S. adults RECEIVED SERVICES
Data show costs of services create major DISPARITY
SERVICES POSTPONED IN PAST YEAR DUE TO COST
All: 20% | 16%
Insured: 13% | 9%
Uninsured: 52% | 42%
Less than 200% federal poverty level: 35% | 31%
200% federal poverty level or greater: 13% | 11%
Novelty and costs combine to create UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS, scaring those in need of life-saving services away
|Life year saved per 10,000 people per year of preventative services||Medical cost/savings of service per year per person||Annual net medical cost per person per year|
|Childhood immunization||1,233.1||$306 / $573||-$267|
|Smoking cessation assistance||97.5||$10 / $50||-$40|
|Discussing dialy aspirin use||63.0||$21 / $87||-$66|
|Breast cancer screening||45.0||$64 / $3||$61|
IMPLEMENTING PREVENTATIVE SERVICES
INCREASING USE AND ACCESS OF SERVICES
Increase amount of PHYSICIANS AND NURSES who provide services
Create more SYSTEMS THAT IDENTIFY individuals at risk
COSTS & SAVINGS
Marginal delivery cost of 90% use equals ONLY 1% of U.S. personal health care spending
Cost/savings of adopting services equates to $61.9 BILLION annually
Regardless of how it is scaled, increased use of services would use an almost UNNOTICEABLE PORTION OF ANNUAL HEALTH CARE SPENDING
Long term, once savings are added in, providing proven preventative services would:
- be cost-neutral
- provide life-saving benefits
- provide education on ways to improve health and behavior
UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
School of Nursing and Health Professions