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Mar 17, 2023

Industry News

New Report on Achieving Whole Health: A New Approach for Veterans and the Nation

News Briefs
Apr 20, 2024

A new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on “Achieving Whole Health: A New Approach for Veterans and the Nation” has recommended that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collaborate to create a national Center for Whole Health Innovation. This new center is recommended to support, scale, and spread whole health care nationally across health systems, as well as develop policies, practices, and tools to support the adoption and implementation of whole health.

The report describes whole health as physical, behavioral, spiritual, and socioeconomic well-being as defined by individuals, families, and communities. Whole health care is an interprofessional, team-based approach anchored in trusted relationships to promote well-being, prevent disease, and restore health. It aligns with a person’s life mission, aspiration, and purpose. It shifts the focus from a reactive disease-oriented medical care system to one that prioritizes disease prevention, health, and well-being. It changes the health care conversation from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What matters to you?”

The committee examined the VA’s Whole Health System (WHS) and other whole health systems and concluded the WHS has demonstrated positive outcomes for veterans’ health, and is a model for whole health delivery that could benefit all people across the country. The WHS focuses on veterans with chronic pain, mental health needs, and disabilities. The report says the WHS uniquely incorporates individuals’ goals and priorities into health care decisions — integrating conventional medical care with peer support, coaching, well-being courses, and more. Studies show the program has demonstrated positive outcomes for veterans’ pain management and opioid use, with high patient satisfaction. 

Given the magnitude of change needed to scale and spread whole health nationwide, and the complexity of needs across different populations, the report says only the federal government has the authority and resources to oversee the changes required across sectors.

The report says the new Center for Whole Health Innovation will need to: 

  • Disseminate and advance the vision of whole health for the nation
  • Consider equitable allocation of resources
  • Adapt value-based payment models
  • Define how to measure and hold systems accountable for success.
  • Ensure structures, processes, and infrastructure exist to support whole health

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. (2023, February 15). U.S. should scale and spread whole health care through VA and HHS leadership, create federal center for whole health innovation, says new report. [Press release].

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