Challenges to Promoting Population Health

Richard A. Kimball, Jr.
Richard A. Kimball, Jr.

Conducting a comprehensive reform in the health care sector had been among the priorities of US President Barack Obama when he ran for office. More and more, however, we are seeing how deeply entrenched the conventional modes of service delivery are as we discover significant challenges to change, most particulay toward acceptance and promotion of population health in this country.

For this blog entry, I would like to discuss these challenges in more detail.

Huge costs of health care. A huge part of the population health issue in the US is defined by the state of our health insurance coverage. The promise of universal health care coverage has been greatly controversial over the past years. In fact, as of this writing, the Supreme Court is slated to decide the fate of President Obama’s health care law. The heart of the debate is whether it is right that the government subsidize the health insurance coverage of those who cannot otherwise obtain coverage through their employment. Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect, said himself that it is unaffordable, although we do not really need him to express that. High quality health care – which is exactly what every citizen of this country deserves – is expensive, and that is a fact. But the question is, do we consider it as a cost, or an investment in our people? 

Fragmentation in the US health care sector. Admittedly, it may be less of a sectorial problem than a political one, but the system is fragmented in so many ways and levels that delivery of comprehensive and needed health care services seems out of reach.. Quite simply,  fragmentation exists between community and national units, general practitioners and medical specialists, public and private health facilities, among many other entities. And here are its ramifications: information will not be effectively disseminated from top to bottom, practices that could improve health care delivery will not be shared efficiently, and policies cannot be implemented comprehensively. 

Individualized approach to health care. Our system appears to be too focused on the individual, but health does not exist in a vacuum. Central to the promotion of population health is the recognition that development of well-being should begin in the communities, with not just every person but every family as the health unit. With such a community-oriented framework, the goal rises from treating one person, but also improving the health situation in entire neighborhoods. Along with this, we also seek to improve the quality of life, knowing that the socio-economic situation greatly dictates a person’s knowledge when it comes to health, their inclination to seek medical advice, and also their vulnerability to diseases and disabilities.

Only by consciously addressing these challenges can the government effectively reform the system.

4 Responses

  • Angel Ward

    This is right. And to add to this, the environment has much to do with people’s health – the air we breathe in, the water we drink, the food we eat. The effects of pollution are often manifested in the health and physical well-being of people.

  • Allison

    When it comes to population health, the costs can become enormous. But it’s important that every government should have a program, and find ways to draft a health policy for the general population. Perhaps a public private partnership?

  • Merryle

    Why are our healthcare costs so expensive? I know medical care isn’t cheap, but compared to the rest of the world, what makes our healthcare so much more expensive? It wouldn’t shock me if it were due to the fact that we help everyone no matter what – especially since our emergency rooms cannot turn anyone away. Seems like we have a large illegal immigrant problem that attributes to this.

  • Carolyn

    Healthcare has been an incredibly popular topic for quite some time now. Why? Because it’s expensive and many of us just cannot afford it. We continue to attempt to find ways to make it affordable, but the question is – will we ever really do this? I came across another article written on a website by Richard Kimball that explains better ways of ramping up our healthcare system, basing it around a more patient centered approach. I think everyone should get on board with it.

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