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What is Population Health Management?

The population health management effort dovetails perfectly with Dartmouth-Hitchcock's (D-H) mission to deliver "the best care, in the right place, at the right time, every time," as well as its vision to "achieve the healthiest population possible." In fact, even though the Population Health Management Division wasn't created until the summer of 2015, D-H has been operating for years according to many population health management precepts.

Some other major academic health systems are also developing population health management programs. But there's a crucial difference between D-H's Population Health Management effort and that of other systems: at D-H, there's constant cross-pollination among all the population health management units—they're not separate silos, each working in isolation, but all working in unison toward a common goal.

The Population Health Management strategy

What is Population Health?

  • The health status of a defined group of people, or community
  • The actions and conditions that protect and improve the health of the community
  • Populations may be defined by geographic area, or by the shared conditions of a group of individuals

Our work is informed by the IHI Triple Aim-better care, better health, lower costs-and IOM Six Aims for Improvement:

  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Timely
  • Patient-centered
  • Equitable
  • Efficient

D-H's overall commitment in developing the Population Health Management Division is "to create a sustainable health system" and "to improve the lives of the people and communities we serve for generations to come." In other words, not just to perform procedures and tests or to deliver care to patients who walk through D-H's doors, but to reach out to people where they live and work and to help them get well and stay well. Doing so will involve an ongoing cycle of developing innovations, testing and measuring the outcomes they deliver, and implementing those innovations that prove effective.

There are three D-H primary strategies that underlie the division's sweeping goals:

Improve population health by focusing on the health of the people living in the region that D-H serves, not on enlarging the institution's "market share."

Deliver value-based care by figuring out ways to reward the quality of the care that is provided to the people D-H serves, not the quantity of care.

Innovate new payment models so that the financial incentives in the system align with delivering not just more care, but the right care.

There are three D-H entities charged with fleshing out these strategies: the Population Health Management Division; the Integrated Delivery System, which is what has traditionally been thought of as "health care"—that is, all the D-H-affiliated hospitals and doctors' offices; and Enterprise Support Services, which encompasses the system administrative functions, such as billing and human resources.

The business units within the Population Health Management Division embrace not just health-care delivery, but also community health and the teaching and research functions of an academic health system like D-H. Learn more about those units here.