Prevention vs. treatment: Investing in the health of communities

When public health initiatives account for 90 percent of improvements in population health, what is the role of the care delivery system in addressing non-medical or social factors that drive outcomes? For Nico Pronk, PhD, President of the HealthPartners Institute and Chief Science Officer at HealthPartners, it means finding the right balance between caring for the urgent needs of a community and enhancing the vital conditions of a community, such as affordable housing, healthy food accessibility, and early childhood education. Based on the success of HealthPartners’ Power Up 4 Kids program and other intiatives, Dr. Pronk discusses an approach that pays careful attention to the needs of a community and engages local stakeholders to improve the chances of good outcomes.

"It’s not necessarily one element or one component of all of those different areas that impact health...It’s medical care, it’s behavior, it’s the social circumstance in which people find themselves, and it’s their genetic makeup. It’s really the interaction of all of those components. So medical health care is certainly a part of it and it should be, but it may well be that a little bit more emphasis on these non-medical care determinants is a very important consideration for the overall health of the population we serve."
— Nico Pronk, PhD, MA, FACSM, FAWHP, President, HealthPartners Institute and Chief Science Officer, HealthPartners