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NWCPHP Director Urges Health Systems to Address Injury and Violence Prevention

In this Letter From the Director, NWCPHP's Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, explains why health care systems should prioritize injury and violence prevention in light of health reform. He invites leaders to attend the upcoming Injury and Violence Prevention Summit.

In this Letter From the Director, NWCPHP's Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, explains why health care systems should prioritize injury and violence prevention in light of health reform. He invites leaders to attend the upcoming Injury and Violence Prevention Summit.

September 28, 2015

As many communities around the region gear up to pursue the Triple Aim of better population health, improved experience of care, and reduced per capita health care costs, we often focus on chronic conditions. There are good reasons for this. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and are responsible for incurring the most health care costs.

But there is another group of conditions health systems must keep in their sights—those related to injury and violence. Here are four reasons why injury and violence prevention should be high on our priority list:

Injury and violence are major causes of death and disability. In the United States, nearly 180,000 people die from injuries and violence each year—an average of one death every three minutes. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans under 45 years old.

Injury and violence are significant drivers of health care costs. Together, injuries and violence lead to more than 30 million emergency department visits and account for more than $400 billion in health care and lost productivity each year in the United States. In Washington State alone, each death due to injury costs an average of $1.1 million in health care and lost productivity.

Injury and violence are preventable. In addition to population-level interventions such as requiring seat belts and bicycle helmets, health care system–based prevention programs can save lives. These programs include comprehensive fall prevention interventions for older adults that incorporate activities such as home assessments, exercise and education programs, and medication review.

Injury and violence prevention has ROI. San Francisco General Hospital estimated that full implementation of their hospital–based violence prevention program could save the hospital more than half a million dollars per year by reducing rates of re-injury and re-hospitalization.

To be most effective, injury and violence prevention requires health care, public health, and community organizations to work together. No single sector can do it alone. In today’s changing health landscape, innovative policy, practice, and partnerships have the potential to revolutionize injury and violence prevention. This concept is the theme of the Transforming Injury and Violence Prevention Summit, which will be held November 13 at the Seattle Airport Marriott.

The summit will cover topics such as:

  • Linking health reform to prevention, including lessons learned from Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations
  • Integrating clinical practice with public health to prevent senior falls and childhood injuries
  • Public/private partnerships to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
  • Upstream approaches for optimal population health and health equity
  • Collaborative efforts to prevent opioid overdose

Whether you work for a hospital, health center, community-based organization, or health department, the summit will be a place to hear new ideas and connect with others in your field on the topic of injury and violence prevention. We hope you'll join us. Sign up now to reserve your spot!

Tao Kwan-Gett Signature

Tao Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH

Transforming Injury and Violence Prevention: Innovations in Policy, Practice, and Partnerships is a collaboration between the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice - Public Health Training Center, Washington State Department of Health, and Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Registration closes October 24, 2015. Space is limited to the first 100 participants.

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