Population health is a new commitment by RC Hospital and Clinics to help grow healthy communities.
What is it?
When an individual goes to see a health provider, the focus is on the goals of one person. The term population health means that we are looking at helping a group of people achieve a common health goal. We do some of this by changing the way clinic and hospital teams do their work. At the same time, it also means leaving clinic walls to learn and work alongside community members to inspire change. This engagement together helps us experience community wellness.
Why do it?
Population health has so many benefits that we see across communities. Some of them include:
- Building relationships with community-based organizations;
- Increasing health awareness and prevention;
- Improving personal day-to-day lifestyle;
- Driving personal health goals with your health providers; and
- Decreasing health costs by investing in prevention.
Who is it for?
Population health benefits everyone. This kind of work supports an entire community by allowing individuals and groups of people to reconsider living in ways that will contribute to better health for everyone in the community. Let me give you some examples:
- Imagine a hospital and clinic partner with a local transit station. Together, they can help support individuals in getting to appointments for medical care but may also offer a special opportunity to stop at the local farmer’s market and grocery store to access fresh produce and groceries. Population health is personal.
- A child who happens to use a wheelchair was unable to walk to school safely with siblings due to poor sidewalk infrastructure across town. This was also an issue for children and community members biking or walking with strollers. One neighborhood started a campaign to support a city policy that ensured sidewalks with curb cut-outs be part of all new building projects and added to or improved in existing neighborhoods. Population health is equitable.
- When county Public Health teams look at community health data, they may see trends in overweight and obesity increasing over time. Then, local health educators may team-up with community advocates like students, pastors, business owners, and volunteers to support healthy living by changing policies, business practices, and even the environment in which we live. Population health is community.
- Think about business owners in a community coming together to ask a question like this, “We have had a lot of employees experience illness this year. What can we do to decrease employee sick days?” Population health is business.
What does it take?
- It takes the use of numbers and stories as data to guide us.
- It takes the inclusion of diverse voices to make decisions.
- It takes courageous conversations for change and transformation.
- It takes overcoming personal assumptions and bias about other people.
Population health means achieving community wellness through engagement.