Both the Society of Hospital Medicine and Jefferson College of Population Health, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, share a goal to educate physicians to be effective leaders and managers in the pursuit of health care quality, safety, and population health, and they have entered into a partnership with this in mind.
Alexis Skoufalos, EdD, associate dean, strategic development, for Jefferson College of Population Health, recently spoke with The Hospitalist to discuss the importance of population health to hospital medicine professionals, the health care landscape as a whole, and the benefits of this new partnership with SHM.
Can you explain the importance of population health in the current health care landscape?
Many people confuse population health with public health. While they are related, they are different disciplines. Public health focuses on prevention and health promotion (clean water, vaccines, exercise, using seat belts, and so on), but it stops there.
Population health builds on the foundation of public health and goes a step further, working to connect health and health care delivery. It takes a more holistic approach, looking at what we need to do inside and outside the delivery system to help people to get and stay healthy, as well as take better care of them when they do get sick.
We work to identify and understand the health impact of social and environmental factors, while also looking for ways to make health care delivery safer, better, and more affordable and accessible.
This can get complicated. It involves sorting through lots of information to uncover the best way to meet the needs of a specific group, whether that is a community, a neighborhood, or a patient with a particular condition.
It’s about taking the time to really look at things from different vantage points. You won’t see the same view if you are looking at something through a telescope as you would looking through a microscope. That information can help you to adjust your perspective to identify the best course of action.
In order to be successful in improving population health, providers need to understand how to work with the other stakeholders in the health care ecosystem. Collaboration and coordination are the best ways to optimize the resources available.
It is important for delivery systems to establish good working relationships with community nonprofit and service organizations, faith-based organizations, social service providers, school systems, and federal, state, and local government.
At Jefferson, we thought it was important to create a college and programs that would prepare professionals across the workforce for this new challenge.
How did this partnership between SHM and Jefferson College of Population Health come to fruition?
Hospitalists are an important link with a person’s primary care team. The work they do to prepare a person and their family for successful discharge to the community after a hospital stay can make all the difference in a person’s recovery, condition management, and preventing readmission to the hospital.