Healthcare has tended to look at each patient as an individual and develops a plan of care that fits that person’s illness. Population health looks at patients with similar illnesses as a group and looks for similarities in the disease among many people, thus finding trends and approaches that match the need for delivering the best care to anyone with such an illness. This has led to advances in treatment protocols that specify what basic elements of treatment work for anyone with such a disease or illness.
Berwick and colleagues (2008) identify “improving the health of populations” as one element in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Triple Aim for improving the U.S. health care system (the other two elements call for improving the individual experience of care and reducing the per capita costs of care for populations).
Similarly, “better health by encouraging healthier life¬styles in the entire population, including increased physical activity, better nutrition, avoidance of behavioral risks, and wider use of preventive care” is one of three elements of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s mission. This formulation suggests that population health is instrumental as a means to improving the health care system rather than the end goal.
Some view “population health” as a more modern version of “public health,” which itself may be a goal (improving the health of the public), an instrument (governmental public health agencies), a measurement system, and a conceptual framework that undergirds a profession and a scientific field.
Population health differs from public health, at least perceptually, in at least two respects. First, it is less directly tied to governmental health departments. Second, it explicitly includes the health care delivery system, which is sometimes seen as separate from or even in opposition to governmental public health.
Retrieved from: http://www.academyhealth.org/files/AH2013pophealth.pdf
With the words, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.
Retrieved from: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/celebrate/vamotto.pdf