The improvement of population health is central to the Department of Community and Family Medicine’s mission of improving the health of people in their communities. In his foreword to The Practical Playbook: Public Health and Primary Care Together, J. Michael McGinnis, M.D., MPP, of the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, says the time is right for integration, the knowledge is in hand, and what is needed most is leadership, partnership and the necessary tools. The Department of Community and Family Medicine takes on those roles in multiple ways.
Community Health Indicators Project
The Durham Health Indicators Project explores key neighborhood influences that can make it easier or harder to be healthy: access to healthcare; access to physical activity; access to healthy foods; environmental stress factors; and issues of race and class.
Population health is an overarching concept encompassing a number of distinct activities that share a common goal of improving the health of populations (as opposed to individual patients). According to Kindig and Stoddart (2003), population health is “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. …The field of population health includes health outcomes, patterns of health determinants, and policies and interventions that link these two.”
Duke Community and Family Medicine has established common language around the study and practice of population health.
After the 2012 Institute of Medicine report Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring the Integration to Improve Population Health, the Department of Community and Family Medicine took on a national role in developing frameworks for how public health and primary care could work together to improve population health.
The Practical Playbook is a joint project developed by the department, the de Beaumont Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with J. Lloyd Michener, M.D., professor of community and family medicine, as principal investigator. Staffing for the project is housed in the department, and website users — more than 40,000 — span the nation and globe.
The Department of Community and Family Medicine contributes to the population health training of learners, faculty and staff in a number of ways.
The department has developed a curriculum based in population health competencies to teach its family medicine residents and medical students in the Primary Care Leadership Track.
Duke Community and Family Medicine is part of a multi-organizational team that has raised the visibility of population health in medical training through the creation of population health milestones.
The department has created a set of online modules that are designed to quickly engage learners via critical thinking and personal reflection while introducing fundamentals of population health, community engagement, team work and critical thinking.