How population health data can help primary care services to improve population health: a rural case study
McNamara, Kevin Peter
Dunbar, James Anthony
Philpot, Benjamin Joel
Vaughan, Clare Maree
Morgan, Mark Andrew
Janus, Edward Denis
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Population health can be defined as ‘the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group’. This field of activity incorporates population-level examinations of health outcomes, determinants of health, and policies and interventions linking the two. A unique outcome from population health data is the identification of ‘sick populations’, where a high average level of disease risk in a population is directly related to the proportion of people at very high risk. In addition, population health data provides a greater understanding of the inter-relationship between multiple determinants of health in affecting health outcomes. Despite such benefits, population health approaches to health care have been criticised for being almost exclusively quantitative and epidemiological in focus, and consequently lacking the context or aptitude to translate population-level information to changes in clinical practice and health service delivery. Using a rural Australian case study, this paper illustrates how population health data can in fact stimulate important changes to general practice and primary health care.
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