Navigating the intersection of population health and precision medicine

Navigating the intersection of population health and precision medicine



Due to inherent differences in health management methods, population health and precision medicine are often opposed to each other, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought light to both, highlighting some potential intersections that may not have been so obvious in the past. past. In this article, I will introduce some of these connections and some of the solutions we already have in the healthcare IT field to take advantage of these opportunities.

Defining population health and precision medicine

When President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address in 2015 that the government had launched a precision medicine program, a debate began on whether and how precision medicine and population health management coexist in the US health system. Although there are countless definitions of these two terms, the following provides a good starting point:

  • Population health management Refers to the process Improve the clinical health outcomes of specific populations by improving care coordination and patient participation with the support of appropriate financial and care models.
  • Precision medicine its about Match the right medicine or treatment Based on the genetic or molecular understanding of the disease, give it to the right person. This is a patient care method based on the fact that a person’s disease may not be exactly the same as other people who seem to have the same disease.


The problem we are studying is in the above definition: population health management aims to improve the health of specific groups by attracting patients and improving care coordination, while precision medicine targets individual drugs and treatments based on molecular and genetic aspects. You might expect the last sentence to end with “…and never meet”, but this may not be the case.

The broad and comprehensive public health approach that became necessary in an attempt to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic reignited this discussion and emphasized one of the intersections between the two: the social determinants of health. For a long time, the social determinants of health have been a major problem in population health management. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated some of these problems, including:

  • Due to age, race and wealth, there are huge differences in morbidity and mortality.
  • Due to soaring temporary and long-term unemployment rates, a wide range of socio-economic populations suddenly appear food insecure.
  • The broadband Internet needed to promote telemedicine is generally lacking.

On the last decisive factor, when non-emergency face-to-face care ceased and telemedicine began to dominate, many elderly and poor people found that they could not get continuous medical services because they could not access broadband Internet. This situation often worsens their chronic diseases. As telemedicine and healthcare analysis become more important to the health system and consumers in population health management, online access issues will become the key to the future.

Impact on healthcare

Soon after the precision medicine plan was established, in a widely cited American Medical Association Articles about debates, Dr. Muin Khoury and Dr. Sandro Galea Pointing out that both conflicts and opportunities lie in the potential of precision medicine in population health: “Comparing personal health with population health may widen the unnecessary gap between medicine and public health.

“Population health planning needs to direct the effective use of resources to the most at-risk population. Dividing the population into risk groups for multiple chronic diseases can provide more effective prevention and treatment strategies and potentially reduce the cost of care.”

The author also pointed out that precision medicine is not limited to genetics, drugs, and diseases, commenting, “The same technologies and big data that drive precision medicine forward are ushering in a new era of precision public health beyond personalized treatment. Individuals affected by diseases .”

Before the pandemic began, a concept called “precision public health” was already in development and was roughly defined as “an emerging discipline that uses a large number of specific population data to provide the right intervention for the right population at the right time ”Precision public health measures May become a bridge Between population health and precision medicine.

Precise solutions for population health

Population health is about the health of the population. Data from thousands or even millions of people are aggregated to provide a general direction. Precision medicine is about you, your response to certain drugs, your genetic code, and many other personal data points. On the surface, healthcare analysis sounds like an overall solution in two areas, because you are collecting data about the population and individuals to come up with an action plan.

Powerful healthcare analytics and IT are an indispensable part of the high-level patient participation and management necessary to improve the results of dynamic population health management, but you need people to manage and operate them.

Due to excessive focus on analysis, we often overlook how we involve individuals in their care. Analysis is the mechanism by which we interact with patients, so before you analyze to facilitate these interactions, you must first determine how you want to interact with patients.

What are we talking about or doing to attract these people to make sure their voices are heard? How do they feel about the provider’s experience and the health system with which they interact? Is it easy for them to arrange care and contact clinicians?

In a value-based, consumer-centric care environment, population health management is critical to the health of hospitals, health systems, and all providers, as well as their relationships with the communities they serve. Providers can use the patient experience to improve population health and precision medicine—understanding the patient’s “who, what, why, and where” before they use the “how” of the technology platform they use to enhance the experience.

Part of ensuring the effective participation of patients in population health and precision medicine is ensuring the participation of clinicians. Will clinicians be satisfied and happy to take care of these patients? In my next article, I will continue to discuss how to attract clinicians, which introduces processes and healthcare information technology and the role of processes in solving our urgent challenge from the pandemic—clinician burnout. Stay tuned…

Sam Hannah He is the resident executive officer and deputy dean of health care management, technology and innovation in American universities. As pointed out in the introduction of this series, Per article In this new series, you will define a problem, consider the problem and its impact on healthcare, and then propose potential solutions.


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