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Military and civilian experts came together at AMSUS to share practices in providing best care possible

Boris Lushniak, department chair for the department of preventive medicine and biostatistics at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, spoke about raising the bar for preventive medicine at AMSUS (The Society of Federal Health Professionals) 2016 in National Harbor, near Washington D.C. Boris Lushniak, department chair for the department of preventive medicine and biostatistics at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, spoke about raising the bar for preventive medicine at AMSUS (The Society of Federal Health Professionals) 2016 in National Harbor, near Washington D.C.

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Preventive Health

As technology improves and research advances, health care professionals across all specialties look to provide the best care possible for service members, veterans and their families. With a patient-centered focus in mind, they are often asking themselves how they can improve.

“Let’s talk about prevention,” said Boris Lushniak, department chair for the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS).

Prevention is often given lip service as people say prevention is important, said Lushniak, adding that roughly 75 percent of health care needs attributed to behaviors and lifestyle choices are preventable.

“The real question is how do we actually make it alive?” said Lushniak.

The answer is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 6/18 Initiative. This initiative takes aim at six health-related issues, including tobacco use, unintended pregnancies, high blood pressure and diabetes – and provides 18 evidence-based recommendations in how to address them. The prevalence of cigarette smoking, for example, is about 50 percent higher in the military than in the civilian population. This initiative has proposed recommendations to expand access to evidence-based treatments to stop tobacco use, encourage tobacco users to make use of covered treatment benefits and remove barriers, like cost sharing, for people to get these treatments.

“We should walk away from this experience and say ‘I can see where we’re heading now. […] I can see a goal,’” said Lushniak.

Reflecting this year’s theme of “Raising the bar,” many civilian and military leaders took to the podium at AMSUS (The Society of Federal Health Professionals) 2016 in National Harbor near Washington, D.C. to speak about recent or ongoing studies on a range of health-related issues, many directly affecting the military community.

Pain management, another major focus presented at AMSUS, can sometimes be a long-lasting issue for wounded service members and veterans. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, director of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences LEAD program, said pain management is often managed inadequately and urged for a national strategy on the issue.

“We must change the focus to become a patient-centered and team-based multidisciplinary approach,” said Schoomaker.

As part of a collaborative effort, MHS measures opioid use through the MHS Opioid Registry. By using the Carepoint MHS Population Health Portal, the registry provides access to data about opioid use in various categories, including demographic, clinical and pharmaceutical. This allows health care providers to get the information they need to make decisions with safety and quality of care in mind, and can also help guide safer opioid prescribing practices in the future.

“There are three distinct cogs [and] they will work together with DHA [which] often times integrates and facilitates,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Clark, director of Defense Health Agency’s Operations Directorate, speaking of the Army, Navy and Air Force. “We can take a common challenge and figure out a way to move forward together.”

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