Population Health vs Public Health
Public health works on a more personal and intimate level than population health. Population health is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals including the distribution of the distribution of such outcomes within the population. It considers all determinants of health, including medical care, social and physical environments and related services, genetics, and individual behavior. An inherent byproduct of population is the identification, reduction, or elimination of inequity and health disparities.
Population Health and Health Data Analytics
Healthcare reform brought about population health management, which requires many different types of data to guide population care delivery and to understand the value of these programs. Population health management—frequently referred to as population medicine—is the design, delivery, and coordination, and payment of high-quality healthcare services to manage the Triple Aim (improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care) using the best resources available within the healthcare system.
Population health concerns data that are large volume and high velocity. When the data are available, organizations can assess how they are managing high-risk and high-volume patients as well as the general population. For example, it is often helpful to know what percentage of the population are high-utilizers in terms of hospitalizations or emergency room visits and to determine the characteristics of these patients so they can be better managed (e.g. more visits to their primary care provider, better diet, behavioral health referrals).
Population Health Management
Four features contribute to better population management of primary care for older adults with chronic illnesses:
Comprehensive assessment of the patient’s health conditions, treatments, behaviors, risks, supports, resources, values, and preferences
Evidence-based care planning and monitoring to meet the patient’s health-related needs and preferences
Promotion of patients and family caregiver’s active engagement in care
Coordination and communication among all the professionals engaged in a patient’s care, especially during the transitions from the hospital (Pelletier and Beaudin 2018)
Population health management activities such as these are amenable to measurement and analytics. As payment shifts towards value-based care models rather than volume-based, it is more prevalent for organizations to be evaluated based on how they are managing entire populations. Payers are putting providers at-risk to achieve the best outcomes for these groups of patients. Without good data and analytics, it is almost impossible to achieve the goal of being a high-performing organization in meeting the needs of specific populations.
Pelletier, Luc Reginald, and Christy L Beaudin. 2018. HQ Solutions. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.