BC launches new prescription for health program

Last week, the BC government announced a $68.7-million Healthy Families BC strategy to “help families make healthy choices and introduce innovative approaches to challenges facing the health care system.”

The first program of this strategy is the $24-million Prescription for Health program intended to equip B.C. doctors with tools to assess and work with patients to develop a health promotion and illness prevention plan appropriate for them. The key elements of the program include the following:

  • Prescription for Health is available to patients with at least one of these risk factors: smoking; unhealthy eating; physical inactivity and medical obesity.
  • Patients can identify a lifestyle change goal, which will be documented by the physician on a Prescription for Health.
  • The patient’s Prescription for Health may refer them to free-of-charge lifestyle programs to help patients achieve their individual lifestyle change goals. Examples of lifestyle support resources: the Physical Activity Line, Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, QuitNow Services, a tobacco-cessation service and information resource, the Patient Voices Network peer coaching program.
  • As an incentive, 50,000 participating patients can receive up to $50 toward programs that support their goals: gym membership, physical activity programs or nutritional programs.

For more information on Healthy Families BC or Prescription for Health, please visit www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca

I consider this a significant leap away the from the traditional focus on treatment to the more cost-effective prevention strategies – potentially avoiding up to $2 billion in yearly health-care costs. Obesity alone costs up to $830 million a year to the economy. What’s really fascinating is that patients get a financial incentive – it’s a really good idea to reward good behaviour. It will be interesting to see what the uptake of the program will be like, and what outcomes will result.

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