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McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics

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Collaboration for Population Health Improvement Initiative

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
written by James Langabeer, PHD

Hello SBMI Community-

As part of a UT System-wide initiative, UTHealth has engaged in a comprehensive planning process to explore and improve the health status for the communities that surround us. As a faculty member here at SBMI, I was lucky to have been chosen to lead this initiative. So, a question I get asked all the time is this: what is population health? Although many people think it’s the same as public health, it is not. I define population health this way:

Improving the health of people in our community, through targeted and novel interventions that integrate public health, research, education, dissemination, and clinical care.

What is new about this, and why it’s good for SBMI especially is that identifying and improving the community’s health requires better understanding of the data and better information systems. This includes data about the community’s overall health outcomes, risks, behaviors – immunizations, screenings, lab results, health status – not only for those patients we have at UT Physicians (in Allscripts), but also those individuals that don’t ever come to see our physicians. From a systems perspective, we need to be able to take these data and develop tools which focus on populations, not individuals. Targeted, precision-based programs for segments of the community will need to be developed to reduce obesity rates and improve immunization rates for example.

What I’d like to see is for UTHealth to develop a collaborative program which cuts across education, clinical care, research, and even human and student resources. This figure summarizes the continuum. I look forward to updating all of you more about this as it unfolds, and get you involved in this exciting journey.

Population Health - Continuum of services covers education, clinical care and financing, population research, and human resources

James Langabeer

Dr. James Langabeer is a professor of biomedical informatics at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics. He has a dual appointment with SBMI, the School of Public Health and McGovern Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine. His research interests are in clinical systems of care, cardiovascular quality and analytics, and health information exchange with a passion for the intersection of health informatics, decision sciences and medicine.