Event Spotlight: The Journey from Health Care to Population Health

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On January 30, health care industry thought leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2017 AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference. One particular session, The Journey from Health Care to Population Health, explored how changing payment and measurement systems are helping to transform health care.

Industry speakers—including Dawn Alley of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Mike Fraser from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Pamela Riley of The Commonwealth Fund, and Eric Wagner from Medstar Health—examined the emerging interface between health care delivery systems and public health, and how they are both moving toward a stronger population health focus.

Fraser kicked off by explaining what a crucial time it is for our health care system. “Traditional public health initiatives and incredible innovations are happening on different floors of the same building, and it’s up to leadership to encourage us all to take the stairs and close those gaps,” he explained.

“This journey to population health—it starts with population and ends with the individuals.”

All speakers agreed that health care industry stakeholders must look closely at evidence and approach population health with a comprehensive and systematic methodology. As Riley observed, “We tend to think about this as something the health care system can do, but we’re just a small piece.”

“Achieving a big picture goal is much easier if we think about leveraging every level of the health system and public health system,” Alley said. “At CMS, we are trying to meet people where they are. We’re thinking about how we support person and family engagement, and integration with community-based organizations and other critical partners. Our Innovation Center is building alternative payment models that improve outcomes and reduce costs.”

When asked how to better address the comprehensive needs of a population to improve health outcomes, Alley responded, “We improve through efficiencies and through partnerships. The question is, how do we support partnerships and ensure all actors engaged have the data they need? CMS Quality Measures definitely play a role.”

Bringing a physician’s perspective to the conversation, Wagner reminded the speakers and audience of one key factor: “This journey to population health—it starts with population and ends with the individuals.”

For more information about the event, visit the conference website.