Lifestyle Behaviors and Personal Responsibility to Health
Health promotion, or rather, social determinants of health, begin within our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities (Healthy People 2020, 2018). Numerous research studies have proven that individuals who regularly take care of themselves by eating well, making healthy food choices, staying physically active, not smoking, avoiding drug use, and maintaining regular doctors’ appointments for physicals and screenings for preventive care, can drastically improve the current epidemic of chronic diseases and obesity plaguing the United States (Healthy People 2020, 2018). As time quickly approaches, 76 million people over the age of 75 years will be reaching retirement age. It has already been determined that this population demographic will see an abundance of people diagnosed with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity in comparison to previous generations (Barr, 2014).
In order to manage and reduce the financial burden many healthcare organizations and systems are preparing to face, the macro trend of preventative care access and care coordination movement has been developed. Healthcare systems across the nation are implementing these care coordination models to better manage this fast-growing demographic suffering from chronic illnesses and to reduce the projected financial burden that will result from this demographic group. The preventative care service model provides early detection of diseases and illnesses, manages existing chronic and acute conditions, and improves the overall quality of life by preventing health complications before they occur, with health education, lifestyle behavior change, medication management, self-management coaching, nutrition, and physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Nationally, Americans use preventive services at only half the recommended rate” (CDC, 2017).
How it works
A Care Coordinator is responsible for managing and identifying the health goals of individuals suffering from chronic health conditions and illnesses. This includes managing their medications, assisting with coordinating doctor and specialist appointments, coordinating transportation, and keeping the interdisciplinary team abreast with patient assessments, current interventions, and treatment plans (AHRQ, 2015). Care coordinators bridge the gap of disjointed care between primary care physicians and specialty physicians. Care coordination organizes patient care activities and shares information among all stakeholders that are providing patient care; this ensures patient safety, as well as more effective and efficient care. Often, specialty physicians are not clear on the reason for the referral or they have been provided inadequate information on a test that has already been completed; this break in communication among providers is just as poor from specialist back to the referring provider (AHRQ, 2015).
Career opportunities in 2025 will include roles such as a Community Health Director, who works for a community organization. “They develop and plan community health programs that promote health, safety, and well-being; these professionals require knowledge of health policies and practices, managerial skills, and leadership experience” (Study, 2018). Preventative Care Coordinators and Care Coordinators work closely with patients on a one-on-one basis, providing guidance, support, and advice to patients dealing with complex or chronic medical issues (Study, 2018). In addition, these professionals assist patients and families in navigating through the web of medical doctors, specialists, and treatments. Duties can include scheduling appointments, assisting with major decisions, helping patients understand complex medical information, evaluating care quality, and working with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the correct path is being taken (Study, 2018).