As health care continues its shift from volume to a “value-based” reimbursement structure, hospitals and health systems are rethinking population health, as they are increasingly responsible for patient care beyond institutional walls. In fact, one of the stated goals for newly created accountable care organizations (ACOs) is to “improve population health.” And because providers will be penalized for “never events” and unnecessary hospital readmissions, effective health education programs have never been more important.
What is Population Health?
According to the AHA, population health is the strategic platform upon which to improve the health status and outcomes within a population. Improving population health requires effective interventions to do the following:
- Expand prevention & wellness services
- Improve quality & patient safety
- Increase care coordination
Why Does it Matter?
Although resources are tight, marketing leaders are always searching for ways to grow share in their markets. Targeted messages that emphasize your hospital’s population health priorities can help build market share by:
- Delivering on brand promise – by encouraging consumers to take an active role in their health, you are improving the health of the community. By improving the health status of the community, the disease burden is lowered.
- Attracting new patients – decide on which population cohorts to target to improve health (e.g., chronic disease populations; or, middle-aged (40s & 50s) men and women, as this commercially insured population is highly receptive to taking charge of their health).
- Promoting physicians and specialists – showcase physicians as experts on certain health topics at online events, while building good will among the physician community – an essential partner in care delivery and outcomes.
Hospitals alone cannot take care of its population’s health. Improving health status requires the synergies of patients, families and other resources, such as providers, public health agencies, social services, employers and insurance companies. But, by starting with the community you know and serve, you can build a healthier population, one patient at a time.