Alaska Native/American Indian Health Care Program a Model for Preventive Care, Opinion Piece Says
The Alaska-based Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska Native-owned health care organization serving Alaska Natives and American Indians, "deserves recognition for centering its health care model on prevention and coordinated primary care," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, writes in a Hill opinion piece. The "unfortunate reality" is that "much of the $2.3 trillion that America spent on health care in 2007, not to mention the potential loss of life, could have been averted through preventive health care," according to Murkowski.
Under the foundation's Patient Centered Primary Care model -- which allows patients to directly contact their health care providers by phone or e-mail and make appointments the same day -- staff members track patients' preventive care, "but it is the patient-owner who is in control and makes the decisions," according to Murkowski. "This program has achieved considerably high success rates," with a 40% reduction in urgent care and emergency department visits, a 30% reduction in days in the hospital and a one-third reduction in admissions for asthma and HIV care, Murkowski writes. Childhood immunizations have increased by 25%, and the program's diabetes care is in the 95th percentile for national standards. Overall, the program has a 91% patient satisfaction rate, according to Murkowski. Some employers, such as Merrill Lynch, FedEx and Caterpillar, also provide preventive health programs and incentives that help curb health costs, Murkowski says.
These efforts prove that preventive health care is "working in the private sector," Murkowski writes, concluding, "By reforming our health care model to focus on prevention, individual budgets will stretch further, more lives will be saved and the total costs of providing health care in [America] can be reduced" (Murkowski, The Hill, 4/15).