If you’re not actively involved in promoting and supporting population health management programs today, you most likely will be in the near future. The day will soon come when healthcare marketers work to develop communication programs that help keep patients out of the hospital while connecting them to ongoing care resources. Trust me, it is coming. For many of you, that day has already arrived.
As evidence of this movement (as if you needed evidence), Duke University School of Medicine has announced the launch of its new Center for Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine. The center will be led by Lesley Curtis, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine and director of the Center for Pragmatic Health Services Research in the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).
According to the announcement, posted on the Duke School of Medicine Blog:
“The goal of the Center for Population Health Sciences is to identify determinants of health and the most effective means for improving health. This multi-disciplinary center will comprise faculty members from a variety of disciplines including epidemiology, health services research and policy, health economics, health measurement and behavior, and implementation science who share an interest in answering complex questions about the drivers of health in populations. The center will foster active collaborations with the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Duke Global Health Institute, the Center for Community and Population Health Improvement, the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Duke University Health System, and other entities engaged in the science of population health. “
Along with the Center’s research initiatives, there are plans for the development of new educational programs including a post-graduate certificate program in Population Health Sciences and Master and PhD programs in Population Health Sciences. From my perspective, these educational programs are absolutely necessary if we are going to adapt successfully to the new reality within healthcare. The next generation of clinicians need to understand that successfully addressing population health involves taking on the social determinants of health – and that can’t be done entirely within the walls of the hospital or medical office. As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, to improve the health of various populations, health systems are going to have to partner effectively with public health and community organizations. Health systems will be challenged address food deserts, safe housing, violence and lack of transportation – all factors that impact health. By collaborating with community organizations, we can help to identify and address those upstream determinants of health.