Personalized population health is not about a 30,000-foot view of patient needs; it’s about having actionable data about an individual to deliver the right care at the right time in the right place. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Population health management (PHM) is gaining the interest of employers searching for ways to improve the health and well-being of employees at lower cost. But in order to meet the true promise of population health, we need to make PHM meaningful to individuals, not just groups. We need to personalize it.

When “population health” emerged as a concept in 2003, it was defined as “the health outcome of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” A “group” could mean a country of people, an ethnic group, a community of cancer patients, an employer workforce or any other kind of population. And the goal wasn’t that most people in the group would be healthy while a few remained quite sick, but instead that big health disparities within the group would be eliminated.

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