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Mar 17 2014
Healthier People, Businesses and Communities
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This is the second in a series of three articles about population health. Holy Family Memorial CEO Mark Herzog eloquently described population health and the impact of collaboration in last month’s article, and this article will further discuss why population health is necessary for our community.

As mentioned last month, instead of the traditional episodic care healthcare model focused on when someone is sick; population health involves understanding the patient’s “social determinants.” There are four social determinants commonly used when practicing population health and contributing to a patient’s health outcomes, each posing a different weight on the outcome.

Clinical care is 20 percent, physical environment is 10 percent, health behaviors are 30 percent, and the final 40 percent is socioeconomic factors. Since 80 percent of population health has nothing to do with traditional clinical care, it is apparent to achieve active collaboration between hospitals, businesses, physicians, community organizations, local government, educational systems and others.

The Advisory Board Company recommends that becoming a successful population health organization requires health systems to lower healthcare spending, align care management resources with the population of its community, identify wasteful expenses, and increase quality of care. This is no easy task and requires strategies to effectively execute initiatives, prioritize resources, and utilize evidence-based performance measures.

While some organizations have been working on the population health journey for years to provide the right care in the right setting for the right outcomes; since population health is so vast, more involvement is needed by many organizations throughout our community. When considering the 80 percent of non-clinical care, Manitowoc County currently ranks 45th out of 72 counties for healthiest behaviors, 31st for healthiest socioeconomic factors, and 22nd in physical environment.

The rationale for stronger population health and the ultimate benefactors are those living and/or working in our beautiful County. As our personal health improves over time through cohesive population health efforts, this will also positively impact businesses by lowering their overall healthcare expenses due to healthier employees. Taken together, individual and organizational health improvements translate into a stronger economy, and healthier workforce and community.

Again, this will not occur overnight as change takes time, nor will it occur without involvement by many entities. Together, we must work in partnership to embrace changing to the population health model of care; benefiting people, organizations and our community. We can foster an environment of care which creates well-educated patients to establish an even healthier and happier community.

Since 80 percent of population health is outside of traditional episodic healthcare, health systems must not to “sit back” and wait for care to come to them. This requires leadership to proactively go into our communities, engage people by asking questions, listen intently, learn, and act justly in the best interests of our entire population’s health.

In the not too distant future, we hope to look back to 2014 and say, “together, we made the right decisions to invest in a healthy community through population health.”


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