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The Future of Population Health
Centennial Issue Population Health
Bianca K. Frogner
Susan M. Skillman
May 26, 2023
May 2, 2023
Apr 25, 2023
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Improving population health, or the health outcomes of a group of individuals,1 requires a competent, flexible, and robust workforce that is coordinated across systems of clinical care, public health, and social services. At a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine workshop on the population health workforce in February 2022,2 speakers generally agreed that a workforce well-versed in the social and structural determinants of health (SDOH)4 to address health equity and that centers on the community is necessary for addressing population health. Reducing disparities and achieving health equity relies on a complex web of city, county, state, and federal policies and programs interacting with health care delivery systems, social services, educational systems, employers, and other stakeholders.3 Because relevant occupations that affect people’s health extend beyond both clinical and public health service providers to encompass a variety of community service providers and others, defining the population health workforce is a challenge. In this perspective piece, we discuss how the population health workforce has been defined, including which occupations have been identified as being part of the population health workforce, and where efforts have been proposed or implemented to integrate population health competencies into other occupations. We discuss the actions needed to recruit and retain a diverse population health workforce that meets population needs, and the policies needed to support this workforce to successfully address population health.
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.