An Ounce of Prevention = How Much?!

Section 4004 of the Affordable Care Act – Education and Outreach Campaign Regarding Preventative Benefits – requires that the Secretary of HHS, “provide for the planning and implementation of a national public-private partnership for a prevention and health promotion outreach and education campaign to raise awareness of health improvement across the life span.”

As reported by the Hill’s Healthwatch today HHS has signed a $20 million contract with the PR firm, Porter Novelli (http://www.porternovelli.com/) to assist in the development of a multimedia ad campaign to help implement this requirement.  In the grand scheme of governmental spending $20 million unfortunately isn’t going to get too many folks excited – unless you are a Republican Congressman fixated on removing President Obama from office (see article to the right in the BoxNet widget).

But post-acute/long-term care providers should have a strongly vested interest in this topic.  They will be looked upon by stakeholders of every ilk (e.g., hospitals, physicians, patients, patients’ families, policymakers) to fulfill the role of sponsoring and affecting Patient Activation, particularly as it relates to the prevention and management of chronic disease.

Leveraging multimedia – especially with the ability to tap into the vast web of outreach via social networking – to educate and create awareness of disease prevention and management is logical enough.  If $1 invested in such outreach can save a nickel of Medicare/Medicaid spending, I would be hard pressed to argue against it.

The trouble is, the research I have seen evidences a mixed bag when it comes to demonstrating the economic benefit of such  initiatives.  Perhaps that can change with the ever decreasing marginal cost of messaging dissemination via multimedia.  Perhaps not because the other side of that coin is the increasing challenge of competing for attention.  But if it’s not successful, where will the blame lie for its failure?

That’s what I find quite concerning.  How much of this investment is going to be made without direct involvement from the front-line caregiving staff upon whom we are expecting great costs savings through more proactive individual care management? I think this is something that should be looked into as soon as possible to determine what avenues are available to ensure PA/LTC providers have a meaningful seat at the table.

What do you think?

  ~ Sparky

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