HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett yesterday held a Healthy Pennsylvania Public Health Summit in Harrisburg, bringing together more than 250 individuals and organizations to share both public health challenges and current best practices.
The summit was convened as part of Corbett’s Healthy Pennsylvania plan to increase access to affordable, quality healthcare for all Pennsylvanians.
“The aim of this summit is to set the goals and lay the foundation for a statewide plan that will directly impact and improve public health in communities all across Pennsylvania,” said Corbett.
“With the help of today’s summit attendees, we will develop measurable solutions to address the commonwealth’s greatest public health risks, while also promoting quality care and reducing costs to the healthcare system.”
According to a recent state health assessment conducted by the Department of Health (DOH), just half of Pennsylvanians report moderate or rigorous weekly physical activity, three in four consume fewer than five fruits or vegetables per day, and more than 20 percent are smokers.
“Through understanding risk factors and encouraging healthier behaviors, especially among our youth, our hope is that we can begin to reduce the unhealthy habits and chronic disease across the state over time,” state Physician General Carrie DeLone said.
For the past 15 years, Pennsylvania has also had higher per capita healthcare spending than the national average.
“One of the key approaches to bringing costs down and improving wellness is understanding how healthy behaviors can improve overall health status and reduce financial burdens on our healthcare systems,” said Secretary of Health Michael Wolf.
Panel discussions and breakout sessions at the summit focused on evaluating drivers of chronic diseases including tobacco use, nutrition, diet, lack of physical activity and obesity. Pieces of Corbett’s Healthy Pennsylvania plan were also discussed, from exploring the use of technology in healthcare to improve healthcare resources and access, to impacts of current community-based care programs, specifically in rural and medically underserved areas.
DOH will take feedback from the discussions and presentations at the summit to help develop a state health improvement plan blueprint for 2015-19. It will incorporate a shared vision with partners and stakeholders and will:
- Analyze health data, reports and programs;
- Identify needs, resources and challenges that influence health status;
- Select health improvement priorities through a collaborative process;
- Create measurable objectives, improvement strategies, performance measures, policy changes and time-framed targets identified;
- Identify strategies to improve population health; and
- Evaluate and track progress.
“We have to look at new and different public health strategies that provide real results for the people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said. “I want to thank the participants in the summit today, as we look for more community involvement and collaboration to finalize our state health improvement plan.”
To view the full report of the state health assessment and next steps for the state health improvement plan, visitwww.health.state.pa.us. For more information about the Healthy Pennsylvania plan visit www.pa.gov.