Posted: November 8th, 2023
Throughout the history of the United States, efforts to improve the population health have often focused on the healthcare system as the main driver of positive developments. However, in recent years, there has been an increased appreciation for improving population health via focuses on health equity, which requires broader approaches that touch on the social, cultural, environmental and economic factors that influence health. Addressing population health requires national efforts that extend beyond traditional sectors. The efforts have to be supported by public opinion, political will and public policy. Effective national strategies that guarantee population health combine the strength and resources of diverse parties and economic sectors. Nations that need to improve their population health need to implement effort that go beyond clinical interventions that target high-risk groups.
Measuring and monitoring population health is highly important to medical care accounting. According to Stoto (2015), the best measures for population health vary by purpose and for divergent groups along the health spectrum. However, when considering generic health, population health focuses on risk factors and socio-economic determinants of health. Such measures would include mortality and life expectancy, morbidity and quality of life (Stoto, 2015). When it comes to specific ailments, tracking the success of population health relies on disease-specific measures, such as severity, stage of diagnosis and mortality. Policymakers have to be data-driven, considering the nature of the population and applicable risk factors when determining measures for success.
Public sector measures mean that in most high-income economies, expenditures on public health are reducing annually. Scientific literature informs that public health interventions are highly cost saving and benefit the wider economy in the long run (Masters et al. 2017). The best way to look at return on investments in public health is by assessing the longevity of cost savings. Policymakers should look at cashable savings, which provide direct financial saving and utilisation reduction, which is a reduced demand on public services (Masters et al. 2017). Return on investments refer to the monetised value of outputs, such as health, in light of the improved savings.
Marketing plays a critical role in population health because it contributes to raising public awareness. Masters et al. (2017) consider marketing and communication core functions in public health. There are numerous ways of marketing the success of public health interventions, but the choice of media has to suit the target population. Social marketing remains a common marketing approach for national health institutions, such as the National Health Service. Social marketing is a good way to elicit positive health behaviour changes in individuals and groups (Masters et al. 2017). The use of social media technology is a proven approach for incentivizing such changes. Communication is an asset in the distribution of evidence-based public health interventions.
Improving population health is key to a sustainable healthcare system. Towards the end of the 20th century, conversations regarding public health have shifted from promoting group health to focusing on individual wellbeing. As a result, health improvement strategies tend to be preventative. Population health management is an effective approach to reducing healthcare spending and the occurrences of chronic illnesses. The strategy equally improves health outcomes in certain patient populations. Emphasizing the prevention of diseases before the onset of their clinical stages is relevant to this endeavour. Policymakers must have the appropriate population health measures and tools to ensure public health interventions extend beyond clinical practices. Improving population health means transitioning from volume-based care to value-based medicine.
Masters, R., Anwar, E., Collins, B., Cookson, R., & Capewell, S. (2017). Return on investment of public health interventions: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1979-), 71, 8, 827-834.
Stoto, M. A. (2015). Population health measurement: applying performance measurement concepts in population health settings. EGEMS (Washington, DC), 2(4), 1132. https://doi.org/10.13063/2327-9214.1132v
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