Health reform means, in part, practicing a different kind of medical care. This new care will focus on the care of entire populations that we serve, not just on individual patients. While every individual is, of course, important, the healthcare system will soon be held accountable for outcomes of care across larger groups. These populations may be defined by persons with the same insurance coverage, folks in the same zip code, or even everyone who has diabetes in a clinical practice. We know that the health of populations is largely determined by so-called “social determinants of health” – factors like socioeconomic status, crime, and pollution. Yet, we are just beginning to understand their full impact.
The United States, despite its outsize spending on health care services, ranks only 17th in the world with regard to our national health status. It seems clear to many experts that we are not getting the best return for the money we are spending!! Shifting the focus to population health may change that.
If you are interested in these kinds of critical issues, I urge you to attend the 14th Annual Population Health Colloquium to be held in Philadelphia on March 17 through the 19th at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Among the major national figures who will be speaking are Dr. Jeffrey Brenner of the Camden Coalition (recent MacArthur Genius Award Winner and fellow Field Clinic blogger), the CEO of Humana, the Commissioner of Health for the State of New York, and the President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and its health system. Since health care is one of the largest and most important “businesses ” in our region, we all have a stake in the transition to a population health focus. You can learn more about this important conference by visiting http://www.populationhealthcolloquium.com, or by calling 215-955-6969.
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