The Definition of Healthcare Is Changing: New Standards for Population Health Management

March 1, 2013

by Naomi Braun and Amy Schalk

Naomi Braun Amy SchalkThere has been a significant para­digm shift in understanding population health management. No longer is physical illness considered an inevitable con­sequence of aging or genetics. There is now a greater appreciation for the role health behavior plays in the de­velopment and exacerbation of the most common and costly illnesses. Whether the focus is on wellness, prevention, or condition manage­ment, the ability to motivate and sustain behavior change effectively in large populations is central to the nation’s healthcare strategy.

Changing environment

The Affordable Care Act is also re­defining the landscape, highlighting common themes of accountability and performance. Furthermore, there are greater expectations for quality, clinical excellence, patient centeredness, performance guaran­tees, improvement of health out­comes, and health plan or wellness program member accountability. The two forces – reform mandates and a better understanding of the role of behavior – now pressure the healthcare industry to meet expecta­tions for new standards for sus­tained, positive health behavior change.

In 1948, the World Health Organi­zation defined health as more than an absence of disease. The WHO intentionally defined good health as the embodiment of physical, emo­tional, and social well-being. Simi­larly, the concept of population health management should expand to include the holistic human ex­perience by focusing on personal concepts of mission, purpose, hap­piness, quality of life, and values. Doing so will bring a deeper under­standing of what moves and moti­vates people to act.


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