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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Positioning public and population health: An optimistic view for the future

A few items have crossed over the desk lately that may bolster the spirits of those tired of banging the public and population health drums with their heads. 

A best practice analysis from Canadian Institute of Health Information begins to flag examples where health system administrators (not public health clones) are incorporating population health thinking into their routine business.  Moreover the report flags four areas of commonality and set an agenda for facilitating population health change

·         Support the collection of population health data though the health system.
·         Offer a population health perspective on major health care policies.
·         Rebalance the performance picture
·         Build momentum through a national coalition.

The subtitled areas of emphasis do not clearly reflect the intent – so catch the detailed descriptions in the executive summary or read the full report details by downloading the report from CIHI Population Health and Health Care

Some 200 participants joined an intriguing session hosted by CHNET-works and sponsored by the National Collaborating Centre on the Determinants of Health   NCCDH on “Moving Upstream in public health”.    

 Catch the July 23rd webinar when it is posted at Webinar archives.   An analysis of the ways that managers can move upstream and some suggested practical actions such as

·         Start thinking upstream and asking what do I need to go there?
·         Shift thinking from behavior and risks to determinants
·         Challenge assumptions about causes of health and illness
·         Analyze the current status relative to where resources are located on the “stream”
·         Engage those beyond the normal circles
·         Develop explicit teams that focus on moving upstream
·         Be sure current staff have the skills to move upstream
·         Share successes
·         Advocate, advocate,  advocate

Finally to further bolster your spirits is to look south of the border and the impacts of the Affordable Health Care Act.   For the past decade the Robert Woods Johnston Foundation has been underwriting significant public health research and work in the US.   With the passage of the Act under the Obama administration, significant dollars were earmarked to evaluate public health progress.   This is starting to pay off big time, and the full December 2012 J Public Health management is dedicated to the agenda.  Regrettably published in a pay journal but for those with access, keep an eye out some incredible work looking at comparisons between US  public health systems and outcomes.   

That the systems are speaking in a positive mode might just be enough to convert a few skeptics to optimists.  

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