Managing Population Health: The Role of the Hospital
This guide is designed to define population health, describe strategies to improve the health of a hospital's patient population, inform leaders why these initiatives are essential, and explore potential partnerships that can help achieve the desired goal.
The American Hospital Association Committee on Performance Improvement's inaugural report, Hospitals and Care Systems of the Future, prioritizes population health as a must-do strategy for hospitals and health systems to succeed in the evolving health care environment. As the publication asserts, "The aging population and the onset of value-based payment structures demand hospitals to take a more prominent role in disease prevention, health promotion, and other public health initiatives."
To meet patient needs in the current market, hospitals have traditionally focused their efforts on caring for individuals and personalizing care for each person admitted to their facility. Common community health initiatives, such as mobile vans, health screenings and education fairs, are sometimes delivered apart from an overall strategy or impact analysis. However, external forces to simultaneously reduce cost, improve quality, and implement value-based payment programs command that organizations examine how to manage the health of their patient populations to improve outcomes.
Hospitals and health systems of varying size, patient demographics, and geographic regions have begun to recognize that the main mechanisms to advance population health—improving quality and patient safety, increasing care coordination, and expanding preventive services—are the outcomes of initiatives they are already pursuing. Although the financial incentives are not yet truly aligned, there are efforts that health care organizations can take to improve care delivery in the current volume-based market that will be even more essential in the future value-based reimbursement system.
This guide is designed to define population health, describe strategies to improve the health of a hospital's patient population, inform leaders why these initiatives are essential, and explore potential partnerships that can help achieve the desired goal. Short case examples provide supporting evidence and show that every health care organization already possesses some of the capabilities necessary to institute programs that improve health outcomes within a defined population.