Public Release: 

Population health: A rapidly evolving discipline in US academic medicine

University of Texas at Austin

AUSTIN, Texas - Leaders from department-level initiatives across the U.S. weigh in on how academic medicine is embracing population health and the opportunities med schools have to make an impact, according to a new analysis published in JAMA Network Open.

Produced by a working group of chairs from nine population-focused medical school departments, the qualitative study reviewed areas of focus, structure, faculty size, teaching programs and service engagement of existing population health departments within U.S. academic medical centers and medical school departments. According to the analysis, there are five primary opportunities for U.S. medical schools to advance population health:

    1. Promoting a holistic view of health that includes both clinical and social determinants of health, well-being, disease and disability and the multidisciplinary and cross-sector interventions and policies required to address them, such as early childhood education, economic development and environmental protection. This would help extend the engagement of health care beyond its principal focus on sick care -- diagnosis and treatment -- to encompass both traditional and upstream approaches to prevention.

    2. Engaging community residents and leaders as equal partners in health improvement, including generating ideas to overcome local barriers to progress. This requires information-sharing, mutual trust and respect, intensive listening and understanding the history of experiences each party brings to the conversation.

    3. Supporting health care delivery systems in addressing high levels of social need, including those of high-cost patients, in part by facilitating engagement with community resources.

    4. Reinvigorating institutional acceptance of a social justice mission as integral to health care delivery.

    5. Training the next generation of scholars to solve the pressing challenges of improving population health advancing health equity.

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A link to the JAMA Network Open study, along with a supplementary diagram illustrating the rapid transformation of population health departments, will be published at https://dellmed.utexas.edu/blog/population-health on April 12, 2019, at 11:00 A.M. ET.

Email Deanna.Bellandi@jamanetwork.org for an embargoed version of the JAMA Network Open study.

Dell Med Contact: Kim Berger, Kim.Berger@austin.utexas.edu, o: 512-495-5169.

NYU Langone Contact: Sasha Walek, sasha.walek@nyumc.org, o: 646-501-3873.

Study authors: Marc Gourevitch, M.D., MPH New York University School of Medicine

Lesley Curtis, Ph.D. Duke University School of Medicine

Maureen Durkin, Ph.D., DrPH University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D. University of Utah School of Medicine

Annetine Geljins, Ph.D., JD Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Richard Platt, M.D., MSc Harvard Medical School

Belinda Reininger, DrPH University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine

Judith Wylie-Rosett, EdD, RD Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Katherine Jones, MA Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin

William Tierney, M.D. Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin

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