If you are in healthcare, you are aware that population health management is a very popular buzzword right now. Search for videos on Population Health Management on You Tube and you’ll find 38,000 to watch; search for #populationhealth on Twitter and you’ll have plenty to read.
So the phrase is hot. But what does it mean? Do you know? I share a guest blog on the Primaris website next week that will explain some of the source of confusion.
With different drivers and goals, you will hear different terms and buzzwords - words like:
- risk prediction
- risk management
- disease management
- care coordination
These buzzwords represent different pieces of the population health management puzzle.
But instead of examining the pieces of population health management, let’s look at the whole. In the US the change in focus to population health will be a gradual change in how we will plan for and deliver care. Some will say this is a radical change.
We’ll move from treating the diabetic in room 11, to helping Mrs. Smith be her healthiest, to ultimately improving the health status of all the citizens of Healthy Town, USA or however we define our service reach or population.
Whole care is more than just treating one disease at a time. And it’s also more than coordinating care for a patient with multi-morbidities. It’s about providing complete care through the spectrum of health.
In public health, we’ve traditionally divided the stages into:
o preventing disease before it starts
o screening to find early signs of disease before the person is aware they have disease as well as prompt diagnosis when symptoms do appear
o and finally, to provide care that treats as well as manages the complications of disease.
These categories of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention cover the spectrum of care.
Primary prevention has been somewhat neglected in clinical settings. The most common primary prevention activity in clinics is the delivery of immunizations. There are other primary prevention activities people can engage in like exercise and healthy diet, but social actions like education and jobs and sanitation also help people stay well.
Secondary prevention is the early detection of disease to intervene before it has an impact on a person’s life. These activities are often labeled as prevention in the health care system, activities like mammography and colonoscopy. But because they don’t prevent the disease, just find it early, they are technically secondary forms of prevention. Their goal is to find the disease early enough to prevent the pain and suffering of advanced disease and to sometimes offer cure.
Tertiary prevention is where healthcare in the US has focused and excelled. It seeks to delay the progression of disease and manage its consequences.
The whole care of population health management will cover this whole spectrum, keeping people as healthy as they can be and minimizing the consequences of any disease they develop.