The Art of Population Health: A Focus on Community

Population health is a confusing term. Depending on who you talk with, it could mean anything from broad-based education programs to individual-level interventions. With such a general and unstructured definition, it is hard for providers to make sense of population health solutions. There is no "apples-to-apples." Instead, you have a smorgasbord of options all of which are trying to take advantage of the population health bandwagon.

Well, it’s time for a change.

Why don’t we re-categorize population health solutions so they make sense. And a first step in doing this is to section off those approaches that enable providers to help those most in need - those at risk of having a major health event in the near future. These are the people who will end up in the emergency room or admitted for a host of problems that will cost the health system thousands and potentially cost the patient his or her life.

Let’s call this approach "community health." By intervening while an individual is still in the outpatient/community setting, we can place individuals in the most appropriate care setting, prevent avoidable ER and inpatient admissions, and improve health. Predictive solutions that drive individual level insights align best to the community health approach. As long as they deliver actionable, granular, and accurate predictions, providers within the community can act as the front line defense against patient deterioration and the misuse of provider resources. So the next time you are looking at population health, think about the end game. If what you want is the ability to find those most in need and prevent them from suffering, maybe it is community health that you are really looking for.

- By Jvion Health