Making Life Better by Donna Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH

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Seeking innovative solutions for our health future

Dear USF Health Community,

The air is finally cooling down here in west central Florida and that can mean only one thing – the fall conference season is here!  The past two weeks have been busy with many of us attending symposia and conferences around the country.

As is usual this time of year, both the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health have their annual meetings at the same time but in different cities.  Even so, the conversations were remarkably similar, centering around the changes in health care and the resulting opportunities for innovators to seize new ground.  Much of the discussion focused around population health, “big data” and payment reform.

Academic health centers are contemplating how they will meet their teaching missions as well as provide outstanding patient care if payment reform systems don’t accommodate the potential differentials in patient-mix and the costs of residency training.  State governments are working with hospitals on their community benefit requirements, believing it means more than providing charity care.  Accountable care organizations are contemplating new cadres of health professionals to provide community-based care before primary care is even accessed and to more deliberately coordinate the care of persons with chronic illness to promote health and reduce expensive interventions.

I had the privilege of moderating a webinar on the Social Determinants of Health and the next day learned that the Association of Academic Health Centers is hosting their third annual meeting on the Social Determinants of Health next March in Washington, D.C.

I had the most fun, however, at a Symposium on the Second Century of Public Health Education at the Harvard School of Public Health, where we contemplated the future of learning.  Where will learning space be?  Who will teach?  Will degrees remain meaningful?

Thankfully, at USF Health we are addressing each of these opportunities with passion and gusto, from expanding our clinical partnerships, to building new models of interprofessional education.  And population health?  That’s our middle name!  Stay tuned for more news – we certainly live in exciting times.