OT Corner: OT and Public Health – Collaboration for Improved Health
[Source: OT Potential]
Amanda Scates-Preisinger, MPH- Guest Writer
Occupational therapists strive to see their clients through a holistic lens, looking at how personal factors interplay with the disease process. However, taking a holistic view also means taking an even wider lens and accounting for how public health issues are impacting our patients and how the provision of health care is itself, part of the public health framework.
Health Care is a Public Health Issue
Public Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole – think vaccinations, tobacco control, etc. Health care, on the other hand, has traditionally been viewed as a person-centered approach to improving health: one treatment, one patient at a time. When health care fails as a system to provide patients with good and equitable care, it becomes a public health issue. In the United States of America, many people avoid care or cannot obtain care due to cost, complexity, mistrust, and poor access, to name a few. Most recently, multiple studies show that as high deductible health plans proliferate, patients are increasingly underinsured and foregoing the care they need. Patients are more likely to delay care and then seek care in an emergency room if they are underinsured. Paying for rehabilitation, after the cost of a hospital stay, is most likely out of the question.
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