The bad news continues daily. Current generations are on track to live less healthy lives than previous generations for the first time in history. Yet healthcare costs keep rising. As the industry tackles this challenge, the “population health” buzz is everywhere—and it means different things to different people. It means promoting prevention and wellness to some and to others, it means coordinated care. Regardless of the differing views, one thing is crystal clear: Only by engaging consumers in the process with a focus on health determinants and health outcomes will the result be a healthier population –and lower costs!

Many healthcare executives see their organizations heading toward a new world where income from value-based contracts is just around the corner. In this new world, the ability to make money depends on outcome measures, such as superior prevention and management of chronic diseases, rather than the volume of services delivered. Hospitals are already feeling the sting of penalties imposed on their Medicare and Medicaid contracts when too many of their patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days — seen as a sign of failure to deliver the right care the first time.

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