Population Health and Movement to Management of Personal Healthcare

There are a number of new innovations in the market that helps put the management of personal healthcare literally in the hands of each person.  It isn’t necessarily new technology, but a push to get consumers educated and engaged as the real driving force behind this popularity. 

In 2010, the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) outlined its findings for Healthy People based on the relationship between changes in mortality and morbidity.  In addition, health planning and health-related policy decisions utilize healthy life expectancy as a useful tool.  “Years of active life” are now included among national and international health goals as an indication of healthy life expectancy. One of the two primary national health goals identified for Healthy People 2010 is to increase the quality and years of healthy life.  These goals and objectives outlined for the decade in Healthy People have become central to both monitoring the Nation’s health and planning an agenda to promote health and prevent ill-health. Monitoring the goals and objectives will, in part, be achieved through Leading Health Indicators which provide a way of understanding health in the future.

Individual researchers and international groups have done significant work in defining both the measurements of health and clarifying the process of population health change. This research has shown that diseases, conditions, and impairments (e.g., heart disease, arthritis, and visual impairment) occurs before there is a loss in functioning or one's ability to perform certain actions such as walking a block, climbing a specific number of stairs, or sitting for an allotted time. Functioning loss can then result in disability or an inability to perform an expected social role.  

The Division of Population Health is under the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and is charged with managing programs that provide chronic disease and health promotion expertise.   The CDC launched an updated Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) online tool that produces public health profiles each county in the United States (visit  http://wwwn.cdc.gov/communityhealth). The Summary Comparison Report provides a dashboard look of how a selected county compares with peer counties as better, moderate, or worse on Primary Indicators. Primary Indicators include various attributes within mortality (Alzheimer's, motor vehicle deaths), morbidity (HIV, cancer), access to health care (cost, PCP access), health behaviors (such as teen births), social factors (violent crimes, unemployment), and physician environment (drinking water, housing stress, access to health food).

The CDC has identified a number of program factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as quality, health behaviors, and social factors.

Alcohol and Public Health ( http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol ) - Excessive alcohol use can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer.

 Arthritis ( http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis ) - Arthritis affects more than 1 in 5 adults; the nation’s most common cause of disability.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (http://www.cdc.gov/copd ) - COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma.  Tobacco smoke is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, as well as exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace.

Epilepsy (http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/index.html) - A general term for conditions with recurring seizures, there are many kinds of seizures but all involve abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes an involuntary change in body movement or function, sensation, awareness, or behavior. 

Health Related Quality of Life ( http://www.cdc.gov/hrqol ) - The concept of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and its determinants have evolved since the 1980s to encompass those aspects of overall quality of life that can be clearly shown to affect health—either physical or mental. 

Healthy Brain Initiative (http://www.cdc.gov/aging/healthybrain/index.htm) Public health's role in maintaining cognitive health, a vital part of healthy aging and quality of life, is emerging  given the dramatic aging of the U.S. population, scientific advancements in knowledge about risk behaviors (e.g., lack of physical activity, uncontrolled high blood pressure) related to cognitive decline, and the growing awareness of the significant health, social, and economic burdens associated with cognitive decline.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (http://www.cdc.gov/ibd/index.htm) - A broad term that describes conditions with chronic or recurring immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by an abnormal response to the body’s immune system.

School Health ( http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth ) - CDC promotes the health and well-being of children and adolescents to enable them to become healthy and productive adults.

Sleep and Sleep Disorders ( http://www.cdc.gov/sleep ) - Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health. 

The goals identified by the HHS and CDC are a driving force behind corporate America’s initiatives to educated.  Based on some of the programs they have identified, it’s a wonder why we have so many apps and tools that provide individuals with nutrition information for what we’ve eaten today, a goal to reach 10,000 daily steps, monitor our heart and blood pressure, and our sleep activity.  As we move steadier to population health management, the question is how will our providers embrace the partnership?


Deborah Sieradzki, PhD is a partner with LMC specializing in the organization and leadership of healthcare financial management.