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Preventative medicine, an active approach of testing, screening and education provides tremendous long-term return on investment by reducing health care costs dramatically, according to a study from the Harvard Medical School.
"People talk about the value of preventative measures all the time, but no one has ever really captured the important contribution of the many non-traditional prevention-based programs, says study first-author Nancy Oriol, HMS dean of students.
The Harvard team developed a prototype calculator to determine an accurate return on investment of preventative medical services. To test the tool, they used a Boston-based mobile health program called the Family Van, a mobile clinic that provides screening for common diseases and STDs, education on nutrition and cardiovascular disease, and blood tests for common disease markers.
The researchers found a staggering $36 long-term return for every dollar spent on the Family Van for services in 2008.
"These data provide evidence for what we have long suspected, that is, preventative health services are perhaps the most cost-effective way to address both our ailing healthcare system and the needs of disadvantaged communities," says Paul Cote, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health who helped develop the calculator.
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