Health and
Placing People
Over the past decade consumers
have been exposed to a sur...
of 1

Population Health and Technology- Placing People First

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
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Transcripts - Population Health and Technology- Placing People First

  • 1. EDITORIAL Population Health and Technology: Placing People First Over the past decade consumers have been exposed to a surge of digital health technologies and other technological innovations including health informatics tools, health information technology in health care, as well as the use of medical devices within clinical care. Consumer health informa- tion is now easily accessible and downloadable through mobile phone applications and freely available from health information Web sites and through social media. Advances in technology— the use of Web-based resources, social media and smart phones— have contributed to efforts to in- crease equity through affordable access to health information. These advances have helped open the door to health-related inno- vations that are reaching the most vulnerable in society, including populations in the United States that are historically underserved because of race and ethnicity. Health workers and health care systems have embraced technol- ogy as a powerful tool for reach- ing and engaging historically underserved populations for health education and promotion, chronic disease prevention, and care management. Technological innovations are now being used in health care to enhance the per- formance of clinical delivery sys- tems, to improve the quality of care delivered to patients, as well as to promote and strengthen patient-centered care.1,2 These in- novations include health informa- tion technology to support the use of electronic medical records and personal health records, technol- ogy to promote communication between health care providers and patients and improve chronic disease management, as well as telemedicine to improve provider practice and patient centered care. They also include mobile medical devices and remote patient moni- toring devices and sensors with patient-generated data.3,4 The ultimate goals are to improve patient outcomes and patient experience with care, and to in- crease efficiency and reduce costs within the health care system. Innovations in technology are not limited to health care. Initia- tives in public health as well as other sectors, such as education, are being built on the foundation of promoting health in all policy areas.5 This rising interest in the use of technology for health across various sectors presents great potential for innovation in population health approaches to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. POPULATION HEALTH APPROACHES AND TECHNOLOGY Utilizing technology as part of a broader effort to improve health outcomes beyond the individual patient requires the adoption of population health approaches. Population health is defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the dis- tribution of such outcomes within the group,”6(p381) and includes “health outcomes, patterns of health determinants, and policies and interventions that link these two.”6(p380) Population health ap- proaches provide opportunities to improve the health of populations that are defined by geography, conditions or health needs. Such approaches are people-centered, engage sectors beyond health care, and incorporate the localized realities of the determinants of health such as social and economic circumstances at the community level. Incorporating the use of tech- nology within population health approaches requires an under- standing and acceptance that people come first and technology second. Placing people first drives efforts to identify and leverage the strengths and assets within a targeted population, and pay attention to health through a social-ecological lens. It enables the development of partnerships and the sharing of resources and data during all phases, identifies the most appropriate technologi- cal strategies based on population feedback, and aids in the process of continuous learning for both health system stakeholders and the targeted population.7 Placing people first yields in- formation on the most effective processes for sharing knowledge and timely information when re- quired, and supports systems and processes that intertwine knowl- edge, behavior, and action within the context of the local environment. It facilitates a better understand- ing of how the social-ecological context shapes health outcomes and the delivery of services. It also helps pinpoint opportunities for investing in structured upstream and midstream interventions across different sectors, with the goal of improving health outcomes. A people first approach may shed light on areas for technology in- vestment in the non---health care 2246 | Editorial American Journal of Public Health | December 2014, Vol 104, No. 12

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