The Jefferson School of Population Health (since renamed) became a legal entity in July of 2008, a time when much of the U.S. was still just thinking about healthcare reform. It was a BHAG, and it may have seemed ahead of its time, but given the modern statistics defining U.S. healthcare, we should all be thankful for its foresight.
The U.S. spends somewhere between $3 and $4 trillion on healthcare annually. Waste makes up 34 percent of that, or between $1.2 and $1.36 trillion. And this is just one of the statistics driving the need for effective management of population health.
Dr. David Kindig coined the phrase “population health” back in 2003, but Dr. David Nash could be called the dean of population health given his tenure and contributions to this important healthcare field. In fact, Dr. Nash is the Founding Dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH) on the campus of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He is a board-certified internist and has been named repeatedly to Modern Healthcare’s list of Most Powerful Persons in Healthcare. Dr. Nash has served on numerous boards, received multiple awards in recognition of his achievements, authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, and edited 23 books.
It’s fair to say he’s qualified to present “Leadership for Population Health,” the title of his keynote at the 2017 Healthcare Analytics Summit. Dr. Nash’s goal is to answer questions like, where is the country going with regard to the population health agenda? How will we make this transition from volume to value? Why is this transition necessary? And how do the tools of the healthcare analytics trade make this transition more effective?
Dr. Nash subscribes to this pragmatic checklist for managing population health:
- Hospitals and health systems should begin with population health for their own employees.
- Keep the well “well.”
- Provide guidance for those who are leading patient-centered medical homes.
- Use patient registries.
- Partner with retail clinics.
- Partner with managed care plans.
- Provide funding for physician leadership training.
He also promotes the more analytics-oriented tenets of closing the feedback loop and reducing unexplained variation. An individual doctor needs to know how she is doing in the care of her population, but she can only know this if she has population-level data. For example, in the care of a diabetes population, she needs a registry function, otherwise, it’s impossible to close the feedback loop.
At the system level, the thinking is around a group of doctors as a team and how they stack up relative to a benchmark. For example, how is a multispecialty group practice doing in the care of its patients with diabetes, heart disease, and COPD? Likewise, it needs data to understand performance.
But the burning platform for population health management is about the current delivery system for acute care. According to Dr. Nash, it’s about percentages in terms of the health and well-being of the population. The U.S. has allocated 18 percent of its GDP, or $3 trillion, toward a delivery system that is responsible only for 20 percent of society’s well-being. This is an unsustainable model. Other than defense of the nation, this is the top domestic priority.
Ultimately, population health is about reducing error, removing waste, delivering higher quality care at a lower cost, and improving outcomes. After all, as Dr. Nash likes to say, no outcomes, no income.
It won’t comprise the entire curriculum of a Master of Science in Population Health (MS-PopH), which is the goal of students attending JCPH, but Dr. Nash’s September presentation at the Healthcare Analytics Summit will be an insightful education for leaders seeking a deeper understanding of the latest trends in population health.
Would you like to learn more about this topic? Here are some articles we suggest:
- Population Health Management: Systems and Success
- Integrated Care Management – Improves Care and Population Health While Reducing Costs
- From Care Management to Population Health Management
- Care Management: A Critical Component of Effective Population Health Management
- A Guide to Successful Outcomes Using Population Health Analytics