Population Health

As the reimbursement models are changing from fee for service (volume based) to quality/value based, hospitals are moving towards population health management. Population health is commonly defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals including the distribution of outcomes within the group.” 1 Population health management looks to improve the over health of a given population.

For a community hospital, they may start by looking a care coordination regarding chronic conditions such as diabetes and COPD. The goal would be to keep those patients has healthy as possible by addressing nutritional, environmental, social factors and personal behaviors outside of the hospital.

To address population health issues, hospitals work with other health care providers in the community to address the population’s needs, whether it is access to medication, transportation or help with compliance issues. Care coordination is key as well as expanding preventive service.

As the medical community becomes more electronic, records are more easily shared across the continuum and with patients. Providers can track what services patients may need, what they lack and when they are at risk for potential hospitalization or emergency room visit.

1 Kindig, D., and Stoddart, D (2003, March) What is population health? American Journal of Public Health. 93 (3)