Population health is a relatively new, rather fashionable term in the medical field. The easiest way to explain Population health is that it deals with health from the collective perspective of a large group of people, not individuals. The term population health has replaced “public health” since the later narrowly defines government outreach programs that address major issues such as stopping smoking and weight management.
Applying The Science
Terms like average, mean, mode, etc. are used from the field of statistics to model what the majority of people are doing and the necessary steps that these people should be doing. Implementing lifestyle directives depends upon the awareness and desire of the average citizen to follow the guidelines identified as important to prevent epidemics in general. It tends to separate those who are negligent from those who are responsive. Herein lies the biggest problem our health care system faces.
While you are responsible for your personal health, clinical healthcare providers help you with your own personal healthcare issues. Let’s say you have asthma. It’s the clinical care provider who listens to you describe your symptoms. He or she orders the necessary tests, makes the diagnosis, appraises your options and prescribes exercise, rest, diet and supplements. You end up breathing better.
The population health approach is different. It takes a look at the whole neighborhood (or city, county, state, etc.) and figures out how many people have asthma and what’s putting them at risk. Then, public health professionals get to work figuring out how to reduce those exposures and cut down on the number of new asthma cases (stop smoking, reduce pollution, etc). Population health is also concerned with whether the people with asthma have access to doctors. If the folks on our side do their jobs right, the whole neighborhood breathes easier. By the way, vitamin D3 has been implemented as a preventive factor against asthma but the amount necessary to be effective is an individual concern. The Environmental Protection Agency and Workmans’ Compensation insurance providers get involved to force these apparent changes in scope.
Primary Health Care
In 1962 at the early meeting of Medicare, congress asked the question “What is primary health care?” Since governmental and private agencies and consultants offered their opinion, the one that was finally accepted and carried to the first state to implement medicare was “What most people need most of the time.” As a result new agencies like the WIC program were created. From the standpoint of population health, many have called this the most effective (and perhaps only) government program ever devised to help the needs of the targeted public. Again, not drugs, not vaccinations and not counseling but the best basic food right from the Department of Agriculture farms.
From WIC to SNAP
The Women’s, Infant’s and Childrens’ program has now evolved into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allowing the individual to go to any food source and use their EBT card to buy approved “foods” from retail outlets. The program, as it exists, has not benefitted the lower one half of the population. Wholesaling the cards for cash (seen in the drug culture), creating dependency by those who could be working to afford better food and the exorbitant cost to the taxpayers has made this a disaster. In its present form, a number of fast food chains accepts SNAP payments for their unhealthy but popular nutri-garbage!
What About choosing the best?
Those of us who first learned of a premium company found that it provided a means to improve our well being with healthy cleaners and nutritional supplements. For many of us it has provided supplemental income that more than compensates our use of the finest products in the world. We have proven how personal health can be improved using the products. Our leader, Roger Barnett, has a much broader picture of what can be done to help population health. The obstacles to overcome arise from the definitions of health and non-health. For populations to benefit from what this company has to offer we need to examine the separation of the terms Health and Disease. Statistically one half of the population will have health below average and the other half will be above average. Those below average constitute the unhealthy population and require intervention defined as prescription items regulated by the government (FDA – NOTE: if a doctor prescribes a glass of water to a patient, it falls under the rulings of the FDA), nutritional supplements cannot be prescribed to the lower half of the population due to the definition of disease. Also, companies are forbidden from doing certain research to prove a supplement will reverse any condition. As an example, the current Age Related Eye Disease study cannot use the double blind cross over methods. This is the medical gold standard for proving cause and effect. If the combination of AREDS nutrients “corrected” any disease it would automatically become a prescription drug under the FDA. So, you see that there are political issues that need to be changed. The drug industry will fight to maintain the status quo in this area.
Do We Need Two Definitions Of Population Health?
I believe so. Some have argued that the term should be reserved strictly for referring to geographic populations. But given how widely the term is now used in clinical settings, that is not realistic. That is not ideal, because I believe that defining population health in terms of clinical populations draws attention away from the critical role that non-clinical factors such as education and economic development play in producing health. For this reason, I believe that when referring to the lower one half of the statistical population, we should use the term population health education. By offering the quality nutritional supplement opportunity to the masses both health and wealth can be achieved without governmental management. That is where we as supplement users and sales leaders come into the picture. The traditional population health definition can then be reserved for geographic populations, which are the concern of public health officials, community organizations, and business leaders.
Personal Health Requires Personal Choices
Your personal health habits are your own business, right? Not exactly. Personal habits have social – and financial – impacts, especially in matters of health care. In a developing trend, natural doctors and employers are pressing Americans to take more personal responsibility regarding their health decisions.
Employers who provide health care coverage realize they can save money if employees take better care of themselves. Citing data that show that much of the increase in health care costs results from obesity, tobacco, sedentary lifestyle, poor food choices and stress, employers want workers and their families to improve their personal behaviors. Over the last two decades, employers have avidly promoted health and wellness agendas among employees including multiple vitamin and mineral supplements.
However, encouraging healthy behavior is a long way from actually changing unhealthy behavior, and, generally, Americans have avoided recommended changes. Breaking lifestyle habits is difficult, and the lack of direct financial incentives to change (as when health care is employer-paid) does not help. As the health status of the workforce continues its decline, many employers who provide coverage are more aggressively pursuing behavioral changes. In my mind, this is a win-win situation!