Advancing Population Health at Academic Medical Centers: A Case Study and Framework for an Emerging Field

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Abstract

The Triple Aim framework for advancing health care transformation elevated population health improvement as a central goal, together with improving patient experiences and reducing costs. Though population health improvement is often viewed in the context of clinical care delivery, broader-reaching approaches that bridge health care delivery, public health, and other sectors to foster area-wide health gains are gathering momentum. Academic medical centers (AMCs) across the United States are poised to play key roles in advancing population health and have begun to structure themselves accordingly. Yet, few frameworks exist to guide these efforts. Here, the authors offer a generalizable approach for AMCs to promote population health across the domains of research, education, and practice. In 2012, NYU School of Medicine, a major AMC dedicated to high-quality care of individual patients, launched an academic Department of Population Health with a strongly applied approach. A rigorous research agenda prioritizes scalable initiatives to improve health and reduce inequities in populations defined by race, ethnicity, geography, and/or other factors. Education targets population-level thinking among future physicians and research leadership among graduate trainees. Four key mission-bridging approaches offer a framework for population health departments in AMCs: engaging community, turning information into insight, transforming health care, and shaping policy. Challenges include tensions between research, practice, and evaluation; navigating funding sources; and sustaining an integrated, interdisciplinary approach. This framework of discipline-bridging, partnership-engaging inquiry, as it diffuses throughout academic medicine, holds great promise for realigning medicine and public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-818
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume94
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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