Healthcare Analytics Summit
Group-based Healthcare Discussions

As the healthcare industry continues to grow, it has continued to place more focus on not just individual health but population health is well. The rise of population health has led to the focus on Group-based Healthcare Discussions.

 

Group-based Healthcare Discussion Topics

Healthcare on a group-level is quite different from individual healthcare in that it focuses more on public health. As the discussion for public health continues to brew, questions such as whether preventative activities should be focused on groups of high-risk should be asked. Should preventative measures be aimed at high-risk individuals or aimed at the population is a whole? This kind of discussion is often done in regards to health services, like vaccinations, health promotion, infectious disease control as well as protection from risks relating to toxic agents or radiation, etc.

In discussions like this where one of the options is to focus on risk groups, it then leads to the question what can be classified is “risk groups” and are there different levels of risk groups? Do you make sub-groups and if yes, how do they relate to the entire population?  How do you determine what level of risk is sufficient for calling some subpopulation a ‘high-risk’ group? These are the kind of topics covered and questions that seek to be answered with Group-based healthcare discussions.

 

Group-based Healthcare and Population Health

Before we talk about how group based healthcare plays into population health, let us first attempt to define the term population health.

Population health can be defined as “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.

Population health is not just the overall health of a population but also includes the distribution of health. Overall health could be quite high if the majority of the population is relatively healthy—even though a minority of the population is much less healthy. Ideally such differences would be eliminated or at least substantially reduced.

When population health is carried out, the healthcare outcomes of the groups are of great relevance to the policy makers of population health in both the private and public sector. This is because population health is something that has to be continually improved upon and how its administered has to be dynamic because populations are dynamic and grow and change at moments notice so the policy makers have to keep up and constantly improve and one way to do this is by getting constant feedback on already implemented policies.

 

Group-based Healthcare and Individual Health

When individual health is good, so does population health. A research published by Healthy People 2020 says, “Positive changes in individual behavior can reduce the rates of chronic disease in this country”. This is simple logic actually but luckily there is a also research to back it up. When individuals have good hygiene it leads to less occurrences and illness and ultimately better population health. When an individual has bad health habits, doesn’t exercise, consumes a high-calorie and high-fat diet, lots of alcohol and tobacco, these become underlying factors that put the individual at a personal risk of disease and health problems.

Is expected a better personal health combined with exercise and a balanced diet, confers better health benefits. Clinicians generally find that altering patients’ health behaviour by encouraging them to stop smoking, take up exercise, is slow and difficult. I mean how many people can say they take their doctors advice when they are told to eat healthier or exercise more, quite very few. Psychology offers several theoretical models that identify the personal and situational factors likely to influence health behaviour; these help explain why behaviour is often so hard to change.

 

Determinants of Population or Group Health

There is a range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health status and these are known as determinants of health. The fall under several broad categories but the major ones are:

  • ~Policymaking
  • ~Social factors
  • ~Health services
  • ~Individual behavior
  • ~Biology and genetics

 

Policymaking

The kind of policies that are made by the government on every level both state, federal, and local all affect the overall state of both individual and population health. Policies affect the overall population and over-time also influence individual behaviour. For example, if there is a policy to increase the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products, it will reduce the overall number of people smoking and getting into smoking and eventually it will cause individuals to either reduce or drop the habit.

 

Social Factors

The physical and social conditions surrounding where people are born and raised act is determinants to their overall health. The conditions of the environment in which individuals are born, live, learn, play, work, and age, also known as social and physical determinants of health, impact a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes.

Examples of physical determinants include:

  • ~Natural environment, such as plants, weather, or climate change
  • ~Built environment, such as buildings or transportation
  • ~Worksites, schools, and recreational settings
  • ~Housing, homes, and neighborhoods
  • ~Exposure to toxic substances and other physical hazards
  • ~Physical barriers, especially for people with disabilities
  • ~Aesthetic elements, such as good lighting, trees, or benches

Poor health outcomes are often made worse by the interaction between individuals and their social and physical environment. These factors are usually not stand-alone factors. There are interrelationships among the factors and these interrelationships determine the state of both individual and population health. If there needs to be an intervention in population health for example,

An intervention that targets not just one but multiple determinants of healthcare is more likely to be effective and successful. So many other things besides health related activities determine population health. Other factors that are determinant of health are:

  • ~Education
  • ~Housing
  • ~Transportation
  • ~Agriculture
  • ~Environment

Improving all these factors go a long way to improving population health.

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