By Don Livsey, former Vice President and CIO, UCSF Benioff Children’s Oakland, Founder DZL Solutions
Big data, informatics, business intelligence, and data mining have all been floated as “silver bullets” to solve the riddle of healthcare reform. One that will likely have the biggest impact, however, is population health. HealthcareIT News recently reported that population health and data analytics are the top two topics of interest for 2016. Everyone wants it, but few can clearly define what it is, and we don’t know what it will cost.
David Kindig of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin and Greg Stoddart from the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University in Ontario, are credited with this first attempt at a definition of population health in 2003:
“The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. These groups are often geographic populations such as nations or communities, but can also be other groups such as employees, ethnic groups, disabled persons, prisoners, or any other defined group.”
A 2015 survey of 100 healthcare leaders conducted by Milken Institute School of Public Health noted that the definition was accurate but focused strictly on measurement and didn’t explain or acknowledge the “role that healthcare providers must take to impact those outcomes.”
What isn’t in dispute is the fact that population health will be a significant focus of the healthcare industry going forward. A recent industry 2015 report identified three key trends involving population health: