In December, people think about controlling their bad health habits and starting the year with good health habits. Many people want to lose some weight, get more exercise or take other steps to improve their health over the year to come. Nurses can play an important role in promoting these New Year’s resolutions for better health.
A 2013 report presented by the Trust for America’s Health calls for a nationwide focus on preventive care. The authors estimate that 75% of the $2.5 trillion spent on U.S. health care every year goes to the treatment of preventable chronic disease. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are examples of these preventable disorders. In addition, infectious disease treatment costs the U.S. an estimated $120 billion each year. Preventable chronic disease and infectious disease also result in the loss of billions of dollars in reduced productivity. Improving the nation’s health habits will not only save lives, but will save money.
The report describes several successful preventive care programs offered in communities across America. In many of these programs, nurses are important members of the health team. Examples of these programs include:
- Improving the self-management of persons with diabetes.
- Reducing preventable hospitalizations and emergency room visits for children with asthma.
- Providing outpatient mental health crisis intervention services.
My book Economics and Financial Management for Nurses and Nurse Leaders teaches nurses how to write business plans and grant proposals for health promotion projects. Nurses can apply their financial skills to demonstrate the savings these projects generate from reducing preventable hospital and emergency room utilization. Nurses can play a key role in helping Americans become healthier while reducing costs.