Population Health, Part 1 An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – Benjamin Franklin

The purpose of health policy is to improve the health of individuals and populations. As discussed in Week 2, health care reform efforts seek to improve access to quality health care for all individuals. Yet, as noted in Week 3, continued rising health care costs are not resulting in improved health outcomes. How can the United States improve its health status in a cost-efficient manner, and what is the role of the nurse in moving this agenda forward? Many believe the answer lies in focusing on preventive care and population health.

While nursing care has traditionally been centered on individuals, the emerging focus of population health allows nurses to take a broader view for improving health outcomes. This wider perspective means that nurses may now examine a range of factors that influence populations as a whole, rather than focus solely on individual patients.

This week, you will evaluate factors that impact population health, and thus, the health care system. These factors include access to health care, individual behavior, the social and physical environment, and genetics. You will also consider the role of epidemiologic data in the process of evaluating the health of a population.

REQUIRED READING
Required Readings
Knickman, J. R., & Kovner, A. R. (Eds.). (2015). Health care delivery in the united states (11th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Chapter 5, “Population Health” (pp. 79–97)

This chapter introduces the concept of population health, which views health issues at the population level rather than at an individual level.
Kindig, D. (2007). Understanding population health terminology. The Milbank Quarterly, 85(1), 139–161.

This article provides a valuable foundation in understanding the terminology of population health. Although written in 2007, the information in this article is very pertinent to the topics discussed this week.

Kindig, D., Asada, Y., & Booske, B. (2008). A population health framework for setting national and state health goals. JAMA, 299(17), 2081–2083.
Using a framework to craft policy and programs can help ensure that outcomes are measurable. The authors of this article note how some of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2010 were not measurable. They suggest a framework for developing more measurable goals for Healthy People 2020.

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