Exploring Population Health
Determinants of Population Health
What is Population Medicine & how does it relate to Population Health?
Good question. The term “population health” is increasingly used as a stated goal of health care policy and delivery and as an area of critical competency for future health care professionals, but what we mean by this and how the health care system contributes to population health is a topic of continued debate. When viewed as a societal goal with multiple synergistic determinants, as articulated by Kindig and others, population health is a desired outcome to which the the health care system is but one, and many would argue small, contributor. Nonetheless it is important to define the role that health care plays in promoting population health and to identify the areas in which we can make most impact.
To this end, we propose the term “Population Medicine” as the collective activities of the health care system that, by themselves or in collaboration with partners, promote population health beyond the goals of care of the individual treated. These partnerships are the intersection between the health care system and the other determinants of population health: communities, the public health system, the built and social environment, behavior, and genetics. Population medicine = the sum of population specific activities of the health care system + the intersection of the health care system with the other determinants of population health.
In the above diagram illustrating this definition, the health care system is in the center not because it is of primary importance, but to demonstrate the intersection with other determinants of population health. Disparities, policy, ethics, and evidence are placed outside the central figure as they are ubiquitous and influence all determinants to some degree.
How would you define the role of the health care system in promoting population health?
Population Health Domains
- Health Care Systems & Delivery Science
- Public Health
- Built and Social Environment