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November 13, 2013

Resolving the Tension Between Population Health and Individual Health Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire
JAMA. 2013;310(18):1933-1934. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281998

Health care in the United States is far costlier than in any other country, yet its outcomes, while improving, are worsening relative to other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).1 Perhaps the de facto organizing principle for US health care—approaching each patient strictly as an individual—is obsolete. The population health approach is an alternative. It aims to improve and maintain health across a defined population.2,3 A “defined population” can mean a clinician’s patients or a health plan’s enrollees, but the defined population for the population health approach includes everyone in the community.

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