The Definition of Healthcare Is Changing: New Standards for Population Health Management
by Naomi Braun and Amy Schalk
There 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.
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.