Learn from Northeast Georgia Health System’s Chief of Population Health, Dr. Antonio Rios, about what population health is and why it’s important to both patients and physicians.
As the Chief of Population Health at NGHS, I frequently get the question, “What is population health?” Dr. David Kindig, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin, said, “Population health is looking at the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” What this means is working with a defined population and managing their health. This is a team sport in which the team isn’t only within our healthcare system but also the community.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the Triple Aim: improving the experience of care (CAHPS surveys), improving the health of populations (outcomes and quality metrics) and reducing per capita costs of health care (spending). This Triple Aim has evolved into what is now the Quintuple Aim, which includes two important pillars: clinician satisfaction (addressing burnout) and addressing health equity. We want to ensure that we’re all practicing at the top of our license and that our community is taken care of.
Population health aligns with all the above goals we are trying to pursue. Why are we doing this now? We know that the amount of money our country spends on health care is both astronomic and unsustainable. Furthermore, our outcomes aren’t great. Globally, the U.S. is ranked No. 1 in health care spending and No. 16 or so in life expectancy (visit ourworldindata.org to see a great dynamic chart).
I believe we all go into health care to do a good job for our patients. Being supported by a team, DATA and the community, I am confident we can excel at this. Analytics is a vital component of these efforts. We want to give our clinicians information that is already digested and actionable.
Regarding health equity, you don’t have to travel far to find populations in our communities that are underserved. We have options for those folks, but as you can imagine, the options are limited. We’re fortunate to have the Good News Clinic, the largest free clinic in Georgia (and one of the largest in the country), right here in Gainesville. It’s a fantastic place to volunteer and carry out NGHS’s mission: improving the health of our community in all we do! I believe we’re very fortunate to have various opportunities to contribute or volunteer for different organizations, including our own NGHS Foundation. Many people aren’t as fortunate as we are. They need help, and we need to do our share to ensure equitable outcomes for all within our community.