University of Nebraska Medical Center

Shaping Nebraska to Become the Healthiest State in the Nation by 2020

Public Health Community Advisory –  Becoming the healthiest state in the nation will take a systematic and collective approach with collaboration between committed stakeholders throughout Nebraska. Nebraska’s current health ranking is 10th (America’s Health Rankings, 2015), so, not too bad…there are only 9 other states in front of us! However, to move up those nine spots by 2020 requires that Nebraskans band together to work on target priorities. Two identified priorities are binge drinking and colorectal screening. Nebraska currently ranks 44th and 35th respectively in these areas. In order to address these issues Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health (UNMC COPH), convened a diverse set of stakeholders including: Nebraska Medicine, Public Health Departments, BlueCross Blue Shield, CHI Health, American Cancer Society, Project Extra Mile, and Nebraska Methodist among others, to begin discussing opportunities to impact these health priorities. Meetings with each of the workgroups have been held to define strategies of impact for the coming year.

Colorectal Screening Workgroup Discussion:

  • Proposed development of a pilot project with Nebraska Medicine to establish Health Maintenance Alerts using the Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. Using these alerts via EHR is a proven way to aid in diagnosis and improve patient safety and patient outcomes.
  • Work in alignment with the Nebraska Colorectal Roundtable that is being proposed and lead by the American Cancer Society (ACS), High Plains Division. The ACS has a goal of increasing colorectal screening rates to 80% by 2018. Reaching this goal will prevent an estimated 277,000 new cases of colon cancer and 203,000 deaths within 20 years. The Nebraska roundtable will develop ideas and additional priorities to achieve this goal.
  • Participated in the strategic planning/consensus building retreat on September 11, 2015, in Lincoln Nebraska. UNMC COPH played an integral role in planning and executing this session. Faculty and PhD students from COPH were active participants in this retreat.

Binge Drinking Workgroup Discussion:

  • Proposed a pilot project that would assess data collected from Colleges and Universities that administer the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) tool. Brief intervention has been shown to increase awareness and motivation toward behavior change.
  • A letter of intent was submitted to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by the UNMC COPH and Project Extra Mile to administer a pilot project in Omaha. The proposed plan will increase data sharing and the use of the SBIRT in health care facilities throughout the city.

The goal to become the healthiest state by 2020 will be achieved through integrated and collective approaches designed and carried out by the State’s public health and health care systems.

This article was written by Brandon Grimm, PhD, MPH, Director of the Office of Public Health Practice. & Nizar K. Wehbi, MD, MPH, MBA, Assistant Professor, Health Services Research and Administration

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