Turning great ideas into healthier communities


PHI’s Mary Pittman Appointed to Institute of Medicine Roundtable

March 12, 2013

The Institute of Medicine has appointed Public Health Institute CEO and president Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, to its newly established Roundtable on Population Health Improvement.

The 19-member panel will focus attention on the need to address the many factors outside the doctor’s office that bear on whether people are healthy or not.  

Pittman is a long-time leader in the movement to create healthy communities. She emphasizes the need to address the social determinants of health to ensure that more people are able to live healthy lives and eliminate health inequities. She served as an expert advisor to the California Let’s Get Healthy Task Force, which recently issued a plan for making California the “healthiest state in the nation” over 10 years.

The creation of the roundtable builds on IOM studies that have found social and environmental factors can cause poor health. A recent IOM and National Research Council study also found that although Americans spend more on medical care than people in other rich nations, they live unhealthier and shorter lives.

The roundtable will bring together experts from education, urban planning, medicine, public health, social sciences, housing, transportation, business and community organizations to home in on how to improve population health and to spur joint action.  Together with outside experts and stakeholders, the roundtable will:

  • Reorient the relationship between primary care (clinical medicine) and public health to improve population health outcomes
  • Strengthen government public health
  • Engage professionals outside the health field to transform the conditions that influence the public’s health

“Health care providers cannot prescribe walkable streets and good bus systems, accessible grocery stores, healthier housing, or more support for early childhood development,” said roundtable co-chair George Isham, senior adviser for HealthPartners in Minneapolis. “Such changes depend on decisions made by an array of stakeholders in the public and private sectors and in our communities.”