October 12, 2011
Central Health, in partnership with the Austin Area Research Organization, has released a new white paper entitled Health and Health Care Trends & Innovations in Central Texas, which asks and answers the question: Why care about health and health care in Central Texas?
This white paper provides a snapshot of where Central Texas presently stands on health and health care. To address the health challenges we face in Central Texas, such as high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, requires all of us to act now. Because health and healthcare are both highly personal and locally significant issues that are integrally tied to other sectors, such as the economy, education and workforce development, we cannot wait for health reform or other changes to address the issues – and there is no quick fix. We have the ability to make major improvements in the health status of our region by working together and making changes at personal, organizational and policy levels.
The White paper identifies 5 key trends influencing the health of Central Texas residents.
- Workforce and population demographics are changing and growing more diverse.
- The rise in chronic disease and health disparities is reducing productivity.
- Community infrastructure and resources are critical to health and lagging behind regional growth.
- Access to health insurance and quality, affordable health care is insufficient.
- Provider shortages and misaligned incentives are hindering access to care resulting in inefficient health care spending.
The White Paper identifies five tenets that lay the foundation for our community leaders to champion and build upon innovative strategies to strengthen the health of our region.
- Health insurance coverage improves employee health, productivity, satisfaction and retention.
- Disease prevention and health promotion are less expensive and more effective than treating illness.
- A community with more robust health infrastructure will attract a more educated and entrepreneurial workforce.
- Aligning incentives, access and health care delivery makes the health care system more efficient and produces better quality and outcomes.
- Developing multi-sector partnerships can improve our health and economic sustainability.
Central Texas is growing faster than the systems needed to support a healthy, diverse and prosperous community. To address the issues of cost, coverage and illness, we need to build, align and sustain an infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyle choices and addresses a health care system that supports community health. These actions are critical to the quality of life and economic prosperity of the region.
Breakfast Summit Friday, October 14
This paper serves as a focal point for kicking off a leader dialogue series that Central Health and the Austin Area Research Organization will convene, beginning with a breakfast summit from 7 until 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14. The speakers at the breakfast will inspire regional leaders to begin thinking in new ways about how we can positively affect our future health and healthcare infrastructure. The agenda for the breakfast is copied on the next page and our speakers will be available for interviews with members of the media during and after the event, depending upon their schedules.
Looking ahead, there is an opportunity – and a responsibility – for everyone to take part in working to improve our region’s health. Public and private organizations in Central Texas are poised to make a greater impact with a coordinated effort focused on health and health care infrastructure development.
Community leaders will have an opportunity to discuss and digest the information presented in this report during this series of dialogues. The focus of the dialogue sessions is to engage community leaders to envision what a model healthy Central Texas looks like and how to create it. This process will include the development of priorities and action agendas. The dialogues will be an opportunity to think about how we can further collaborate across the region, leverage community assets and build on current initiatives to maximize health outcomes and other indicators of success embedded in our vision.
The leader dialogue process will culminate with a session in early 2012, focusing on the steps our communities will take together to improve health and healthcare in Central Texas. With leaders across the region, we seek to develop a collaborative vision and action plan to achieve the health and economic outcomes we all desire for Central Texas.