Forum Session

Healthy People for a Healthy Economy: The Promise of Public Health
October 12, 2012


Michele J. Orza, ScD & Judith Miller Jones, MA


For the past several years, the U.S. public health enterprise has been in the process of reinventing itself. Most recently, it has begun to take advantage of market dynamics and opportunities presented by health reform to turn its focus from serving as a last-resort provider of health care services and toward being a primary force for reducing the need for health care. The current emphasis is on tackling the nonmedical determinants of health—such as behavior, socioeconomic status, and environment—to prevent poor health from developing in the first place. These efforts could help the struggling U.S. economy in two ways: by reducing the burgeoning health care spending that is devouring public, private, and family budgets and by improving the ability of the U.S. population to compete in the global economy.

This session examined a trio of recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports focused on what is needed—especially regarding data needs, legal frameworks, and financial stability—to implement this new public health agenda. Given the reports’ emphasis on partnerships with private organizations and public entities, the session featured the perspectives of a major corporation and one state's (Arkansas) department of public health.


Martín-J. Sepúlveda, MD, MPH, FACP (bio)
IBM Fellow & Vice President
Health Industries Research
IBM Corporation

Marthe R. Gold, MD, MPH (bio)
Committee on Public Health Strategies to Improve Health
Institute of Medicine
Arthur C. Logan Professor and Chair
Department of Community Health and Social Medicine
Sophie Davis School of Bio-Medical Education
City University of New York Medical School

Paul Halverson, DrPH, MHSA (bio)
Arkansas Department of Health

Related Materials

See also the Forum's background paper, "High Hopes: Public Health Approaches to Reducing the Need for Health Care" (September 27, 2010), and the three "For the Public's Health" reports by the IOM: "The Role of Measurement in Action and Accountability" (December 8, 2010), "Revitalizing Law and Policy to Meet New Challenges" (June 21, 2011), and "Investing in a Healthier Future" (April 10, 2012).

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