Population Health

Historically, doctors and hospitals have shared a common focus... to treat patients with who are injured, suffering from acute and chronic illness such as diabetes and emphysema, and cancer. And what we have learned is that this is a very ineffective way to care for the health of our nations.  Obesity rates are climbing and the overall health of the nation is deteriorating, yet the costs of treating patients continue to rise.

Population Health changes the focus to "wellness" and moves the care model to include the entire continuum of care by looking at preventive measures, environmental and geographic factors affected care, medical homes to treat specific chronic diseases, improving quality of care, and reducing costs.

The Affordable Care Act continues to be the driven of these new models of care.  To improve the quality, efficiency, and outcomes, doctors and hospitals are partnering and forming what is now knows as "Accountable Care Organizations" with the purpose of centralizing a common plan for a given population.  Keep in mind, a population may refer to a certain geographic region or may refer to patients with certain demographic characteristics such as the elderly, the poor, women, etc.

I have had the great fortune of studying under Dr. David Nash, Dean, School of Population Health at the Thomas Jefferson University.  No doubt, these concepts are all evolving.  Of course, Dr. Nash knows that these concepts have actually been here for decades but only now are receiving the attention they deserved.

I will be writing more about the importance of understanding Population Health soon, so stay tuned.

Dr. David Nash Visiting Lehigh Valley Health Network