Promoting Health

Shifting our Focus from Treatment to Health Promotion

Kolawole Olofinboba, MD is a member of both Connecticut Children’s Board of Directors and Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health Advisory Board. He joins our blog to share his thoughts on promoting health.

By: Kolawole Olofinboba, MD

As a trained physician, I have always viewed hospitals as places where we treat, and hopefully cure, sick patients. However, I have always hoped that hospitals and the entire healthcare sector will transition beyond such a focus to place greater emphasis on preventing illness and promoting wellness.

I am inspired by Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office) and view it as a model for an industry that is trying, but struggling, to achieve true healthcare transformation.

I joined the Office’s Advisory Board when it formed in 2012, and continue to be impressed with the work the Office is doing to promote children’s optimal healthy development across all sectors impacting child health and development outcomes.

The Office, led by Paul Dworkin, MD, Connecticut Children’s executive vice president for community child health, works to keep children healthy by addressing a myriad of factors that keep them from getting the most out of health services, factors that are often non-clinical in nature. Such issues include food insecurity, nutrition, healthy housing, economic development, child welfare, transportation and much more.

The Office also works to build partnerships between its internal community-oriented programs and external community-based programs to build stronger systems of support for children and families as a path towards collectively enhancing outcomes.

Simply put: the Office focuses not only on prevention, but also on health promotion. Its leaders and team members work to strengthen children, families, physician practices and communities with the goal of keeping children well so they won’t need the world class services physicians at Connecticut Children’s provide.

All of this may seem contradictory to the typical model of a successful hospital. After all, when we see hospitals like Connecticut Children’s doing well by financial, volume and other metrics, it likely means more children have been sick. Yet, if the institution doesn’t have that volume and derivative revenues, it would be hampered in fulfilling its goal of providing the world class care it is known for.

Hopefully, the industry will shift towards reimbursing physicians for the value of care they provide to patients, including their ability to keep patients well, as opposed to the currently predominant fee-for-service model that disproportionately rewards interventions that occur post-infirmity. Such a shift could encourage other hospitals to embrace a similar approach as taken by the Office.

The Office has become a national model, studied and emulated by other children’s hospitals. Several of its initiatives are now available to children across the country through the Help Me Grow National Center, which was founded by Dr. Dworkin and has built a network of more than 25 state affiliates that work to advance developmental promotion among young children.

My hope is that one day, hopefully soon, this paradigm of keeping children and adults healthy, which is championed by the Office, becomes the dominant one in the healthcare value chain.

It will be a wonderful day indeed when we spend more on preventing illness in the first place than we do on treating it, allowing people to live much healthier, happier lives. The programs and initiatives that the Office advances strive to do exactly that.

Kolawole Olofinboba, MD serves on both Connecticut Children’s Board of Directors and the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health Advisory Board. After practicing medicine as a board-certified internist and hospitalist, and serving as an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Dr. Olofinboba transitioned into a career in financial management and now works as a managing partner at Fairview Capital Partners.

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