The MMS 2012 Annual Education program, entitled The Secret Sauce: Population Health as a Recipe for Transforming Health Care contained nearly four hours of fascinating presentations by three experts and offered perspectives on the concept of “population health,” considered a broader approach to health care delivery and essential to health reform by its advocates.
To report adequately and fairly on the scope of the presentations would take thousands of words. Indeed, the professional experiences, activities and research of each of the presenters have been amassed over decades, and today’s first presenter has written what is perhaps the definitive book on the topic of population health. This space, then, can only bring a taste of the talks and encourage more attention by viewing their presentations on the MMS website. Here are some highlights.
David B. Nash, M.D., M.B.A., Dean, Jefferson School of Population Health,
Thomas Jefferson University
Population Health: Creating a Culture of Wellness: Defining the concept and describing the goals and potential of the practice of population health.
“Population health refers to the distribution of health outcomes within a population, the health determinants that influence distribution, and the policies and interventions that impact the determinants. It spans wellness and health promotion, management of chronic disease, care of the frail and elderly, and palliative care for those at the end of life.
Population health is essential to health reform. Its goals including improving care coordination, enhancing health and wellness through prevention and lifestyle changes, reducing or eliminating waste and errors, eradicating disparities, and improving transparency and accountability. The four pillars of population health are chronic care management, quality and safety, public health, and health policy.
The Affordable Care Act has a lot of population health built into it: linking payment to evidence and outcomes; bundling payment for physician and hospital service by episode or condition; reimbursement for coordination of care in medical homes; and accountability for results. Making it work means changing the culture of medicine, with practice based on evidence, reduced adherence to professional autonomy, and engaging with patients across a continuum of care. It’s all about doctors being part of the conversation, being accountable, responsible, and holding a place at the leadership table.”
Mary Hamel, M.D., Malaria Branch Senior Technical Advisor,
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Epidemiology and World Population Health: A presentation highlighting a targeted approach to population health by describing the fight against one of the world’s deadliest, yet preventable diseases.
“Malaria is the leading cause of children’s death and disease in the world, with 225 million new cases every year. In Africa, 700,000 children die each year from the disease, nearly 2,000 every day. The disease presents an economic as wealth as medical burden, as it continues the cycle of poverty. The poorest get the disease and have less access to preventive measures. Young children are the most susceptible, and deaths occur quickly, with 24-48 hours from the onset of fever.
There is good news, however, as major advances in malaria control are being made, with such efforts as the Global Fund, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, and the Gates Foundation. Interventions such as insecticide treated nets and indoor residual spraying work but have limitations. The exciting news is that after 30 years of research, we may – may – be approaching a vaccine to prevent malaria. The Phase III trial – the last step before regulatory approval – of a potential vaccine was launched in 2009, and the hope is that by 2015 routine childhood vaccination will be available in Africa.”
Alex “Sandy” Pentland, Ph.D., Director, MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Improving Health with Human-Centered Technology: Describing methods of human interaction that can influence and enhance the practice of population health.
“Most of the disease load – estimates are up to 80 percent- results from poor behavior and lack of compliance. “Human-centered technology” can improve health with a proactive approach of reaching out to people, by moving health care out of the clinic and into the real world. Using a system developed by evolution – one person “reading” another’s health status without testing or exams – can serve as a basis for a triage mechanism to read a patient’s health status.
Types of signals – interest, attention, empathy, or action – can cause a response in others that will be instructive about the person’s health status. We encourage a rethinking of health science: honest human signals versus clinical testing. People don’t use it enough. Mobile phones can be the next frontier for these signals, as they are measuring behavior constantly, and the signals can be interpreted in a health context.”
Note: Visuals used by the presenters are scheduled for posting on the MMS website.