Improving Outcomes in the Population: Population Health vs. Public Health

 

Improving Outcomes in the Population health is an important part of the healthcare industry. Population healthcare can also be described as reactive because it focuses on making the entire population healthier and immune to any disease outbreaks. The healthier the population, the fewer incidents of disease outbreaks there would be. So improving outcomes in the population falls under population health. There are other things that fall under population health and the fact that it is so broad has led to some misuse of the term. Population health is often mistaken for public health but they are quite different.

Population Health vs. Public Health

Considering how often population health and public health are mistaken for each other, and complete discussion on outcomes in the population has to include the differences between them. There are many definitions of population health but the general consensus on the definition is that it has to do with examining a large group of people and checking/comparing for incidents of diseases and comparing the frequency and intensity of these incidents in different groups. These groups could be age groups, race groups, or based on location.

Public health is the examining of the health of an entire population.

Advantages of Public Health

So while population health involves breaking things down in groups and stratification, public health does not. Public health affects every member of the public whether they are involved in a group test or not. Say for example there is a pollution outbreak in the city’s water or there is a contamination scare, public health officials will work to solve the problem most times without the knowledge of the population. So people receive public health services without knowing it. During the flu season, communicable diseases such as the flu or dangerous pathogens are at a higher risk of affecting the population and spreading. Hence the public health departments work to come up with vaccinations and set up procedures in case an outbreak occurs. They also set up preventive policies against any outbreaks.

Advantages of Population Health

Population health is important and deserves all the attention it gets in the healthcare industry.

Unlike public health that is more general, population health is focused more on individuals and on more specific needs. The goal of population health is to improve the health of every individual which then means a healthier group of people. The healthier people are the better society gets. This is why population health emphasizes diet and exercise and preventive care to patients. An advancement of population health means that people are more aware of their health, take better care of themselves and also expect better care from their healthcare organizations. Having a more savvy patient base means that healthcare organizations have to be more efficient and an increase in efficiency also leads to lower cost of care and more affordable care. This is what improving outcomes in the population means. Another advantage of population health is that there is improved access to care for all people. Stratification of analysis means that previously ignored groups like minorities and neglected neighborhoods would get special attention and efforts would be made to make healthcare accessible to them. This means people can receive care when they need it and get treated right away. Immediate treatment means no treat of the condition worsening later on or sickness spreading. A focus on population health for better access to healthcare also promotes better patient engagement. You can expect to see patients feeling empowered so that they can better manage their own health. Population health by its very nature is focused on people and it involves professionals assessing populations in terms of risk stratification.

Cloud Technology and Improving Outcomes in the Population

The merging of technology with healthcare has positive impacts on the healthcare industry and for population health. Increased patient engagement, better more accurate data, more accessible healthcare through programs like telemedicine, cheaper cost of care etc. The list keeps growing. Even Though healthcare technology cannot replace the traditional care method of humans caring for humans, it helps improve the method. Combining human with advanced data analysis using technology, better treatment can be offered to patients.

Health records are very important in the healthcare industry because they contribute to the day to day patient care and also to improve overall patient care. For example, electronic health records EHR are made more sophisticated with technology and they help store data more efficiently.

Conclusion

The subject of population health is going to be of increasing importance going forward, especially as more medical practices provide diagnosis and treatment statistics and other information electronically to public health researchers. Public health and population would continue to work hand in hand as the ultimate goal is to make everyone have access to care and be overall healthier.