HEALTH CARE & MEDICAL PROVIDERS

Why

• Physical literacy leads to improved health. Medical professionals have an obligation to engage with and the platform to communicate critical information to the public, building stronger relationships with patients, families, and communities.
• Physical literacy makes people resilient. It holds the prospect of decreasing health and health insurance costs by creating more active individuals who develop fewer chronic diseases.
• Emphasizing PL before sport-specific skills at an early age may also decrease overuse injuries, further cutting costs.

Ideas

Health Insurance Companies and Government Health Care Plans

• Educate consumers about physical literacy.
• Integrate physical literacy principles into employer wellness programs.
• Recognize “exercise deficit disorder,” a formal diagnosis that would alert children, parents/guardians, and providers to a patient’s physical inactivity.
• Create a line item on the standard patient evaluation form.
• Be a peer-communicator to other insurance companies, benefiting all companies because of the rate at which people switch health plans.
• Allow health savings accounts (HSAs) to be used for physical literary, physical activity, and sports programs that meet criteria.
• Use data from peer countries to support including wellness programs in mandated health care coverage until US-specific data is available.
• Implement accountability structures for payments by rewarding hospital systems for improving the health of their communities.
• Develop PL prescriptions.
• Offer reimbursement and other incentives to providers who discuss and measure PL with patients, and to families that enroll children in community recreation and sport programs certified in PL.

Medical Schools

• Embed PL concepts, standards, and assessment tools into higher-education curriculum (textbooks, certification exams, continuing-education credits, online platforms) for future health professionals (doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians assistants, etc.).
• Include emphasis of PL in pediatric rotations and residency curricula.
• Integrate PL into teaching of normal childhood development and motor function milestones.

Medical Providers

• Assess gross motor development and PL skills at each well-child visit for infants, toddlers, school-age children, and adolescents.
• Include a question on intake forms to gauge a patient’s involvement in physical activity and reasons for not participating, if any.
• Encourage pediatricians and obstetricians to educate children and new parents/guardians on the importance of physical activity and PL.
• Use a holistic care model and have a designated physical literacy specialist on staff who can meet with children and guardians when necessary.
• Include PL assessments in the electronic medical record.

All

• Broaden the definition of health and wellness to include physical literacy as pivotal to a healthy lifestyle.

Barriers/Competing Interests

Geography

• Access to care is shaped by where medicine is practiced. In rural areas, for instance, access can be especially limited.

Insurance

• Among insurance companies, fear of losing customers can prompt resistance to new concepts.
• Individuals changing health plans may not receive consistent benefits.

Knowledge

• Lack of education about PL can prevent insurance companies and providers from embracing the concept and programs.