Population Health – The Healthcare Revolution

Posted on Thursday, April 6, 2017 by Venn GroupNo comments

Population Health

Population Health is defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” It is argued that the field of population health includes health outcomes, patterns of health determinants and policies and interventions that link these two (Kindig and Stodart, 2003).

In essence, it is a way of looking at multiple characteristics (race, gender, age, ethnicity, geographical location, socioeconomic status) and determining, not on an individual basis, diseases and health impairments that certain “populations” may be predisposed to. This is done through methods such as using health statistics, the use of surveys and controlled trials.

The Healthcare Revolution

It’s no secret that the NHS is struggling to meet demands of its ever growing population and with recent press focussing around record breaking A&E waiting times and potential breeches of patient safety, not to mention the increased pressure on reducing spend, the outlook is looking a little bleak.

However, I do believe that the upcoming STP’s do shed a little light on what otherwise looks like a very dark and dingy area. Now clearly this is not going to change or reduce the immediate pressures overnight, as this would resemble steering the titanic to avoid the infamous iceberg, and we all know how that finished, but I am a firm believer that the only way to tackle such a beast is through a rigorous five year plan covering all aspects of NHS spending.

The scope of the STP’s are broad and evolving, but they will focus on 44 “geographical footprints” or “populations”, which in essence is the first shift to recognition that the current set-up is not sustainable and that more integrated models of care are the only way to meet demands of the population.

We are now entering a new era where healthcare will be become proactive as opposed to reactive. To me this is always a step in the right direction no matter what context. For example, if a recruiter is proactive with their clients and aware of the upcoming vacancies, they should have the job as good as placed by the time it is officially released. Whereas, if a consultant is reacting to that same, but in this case, unknown vacancy, it is very likely that the most suited candidates have already been spoken too by their proactive peer.

If we can begin to identify health trends and what diseases/ailments/mental health issues people may be predisposed to, we can start proactive treatments or even better, proactively educate so less of the population are affected. This should move the demand off diagnostics and acute care, which should allow more resources to focus on urgent care for unknown ailments/accidents and emergencies, eventually leading to improved integrated care.

There have been speculations from clinicians and academics in the past few years that there will be a need for a more agile healthcare system and perhaps fewer hospitals in the next couple of decades. Last year this was hailed as madness, but maybe this is the start of the healthcare revolution.

Is it achievable?

Steve Hill, Healthcare Division

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