PROFILE: Addressing Population Health and Disease Prevention

Chronic conditions will touch nearly 50 percent of America’s population. Despite being one of the healthiest states in the nation, half of Coloradans over the age of 45 had at least one chronic condition in 2011. Colorado Prevention Alliance (CPA) is committed to stopping this trend by engaging, educating, and collaborating with stakeholders statewide.

Founded in 2011, CPA is a collaborative organization which envisions working together to promote evidence-based strategies for addressing population health and disease prevention. Executive Director Lauren Ambrozic explains the roots of the CPA as a “response to the frustrations expressed by health plans, community stakeholders, employers and public health leaders concerning the limitations of infrequent and passive meetings intended to promote disease prevention in a collective manner.” Rather than simply continuing these discussions, the CPA was formed to take action.

More than 30 organizations ranging from private insurers and non-profits to government agencies and trade associations answered the call. This level of engagement across the spectrum of stakeholders is unique and Ambrozic applauds the value of these partners as they “are able to leverage resources to provide better care to a larger, more diverse and more engaged patient population.”

Though the resources vary from partner to partner, each member of the CPA has an equal voice in determining initiative priority and workgroup development. Ambrozic stresses that “the collaborative culture is vital in unifying partners and fostering engagement in, and commitment to, developing and implementing projects.” This foundation is very important since members have the ability to affect the health of 3 million Coloradans as they work toward:

  • Reducing the prevalence of chronic disease
  • Promoting early identification of disease
  • Increasing adherence to treatment
  • Disrupting disease progression

Once CPA members identify a new initiative, workgroups are formed to bridge the public and private health systems. Workgroups have a simple criteria: the end result of the collaboration must be greater than what could be achieved separately. The projects tackled by the workgroups have certainly met this criteria in spades.

Groups focused on diabetes have worked with health plans to include screening and education as covered preventive services. A tool kit, developed by a workgroup in conjunction with clinicians and patients, educates providers about catching diabetes early and the connection between the disease and depression.

The Breast Cancer workgroup combined resources to investigate the downward trend of mammography in Colorado. In 2012 they published a report detailing the findings of the focus groups. The report lead health plans to alter their methods of education for patients and providers. Additionally, the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care shared the results with physician practices and offered providers assistance with tracking mammograms in electronic health records.

A need for vaccinations resulted in a workgroup collaboration between commercial health plans and local public health agencies (LPHAs) as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Acting together, they increased access to immunizations through LPHAs and mapped out a way for reimbursement for vaccinations provided by the LPHAs to privately insured patients.

In the years since its founding, CPA has forged ahead as an important participant in the Colorado health care landscape. Members cannot overstate the value of having such an organization at work in our state as Rocio I. Pereira, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes University of Colorado, Anschutz Health and Wellness Center elaborates,

“The Colorado Prevention Alliance has brought together public, non-profit, and private entities in Colorado to start working toward a more efficient and effective health system, with an increased focus on the prevention of chronic disease. Continued work by this unique collaborative will be essential in the transformation of our current health system into one that collectively promotes health and wellbeing for all Coloradoans.”

Previously published as part of CIVHC’s Spotlight on Innovation series.