What is population health?

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Part of A vision for population health in England

Article information

  • Posted:Thursday 22 August 2019

What is a 'population health' approach? And what role do we all play in keeping our communities healthy? Watch our new animation to find out.

Like this animation?

Please share it on social media, including the #KFExplain hashtag, and with your colleagues and networks.

Transcript

Being healthy is more than just not being ill - it's about our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. While access to traditional health services is important, in reality, there are many factors that affect our health and wellbeing.

Our individual actions and social connections; the places and communities that we're part of; the services that are delivered in our neighbourhoods, and the decisions made by local and national government all play a vital role in keeping us healthy.

John is 50 and has worked as a builder for over 30 years. Recently he’s developed arthritis and is visiting the GP frequently for pain relief. Unable to work full-time, he’s become cut off from friends and colleagues, and is finding it hard to get out and about and to look after himself.

Meera’s eight and started suffering from asthma and chest infections when she was three. There are no green spaces within easy reach of her home and her school playground is by a congested road. Medication helps, but she misses school some days, making it hard to keep up with her work and friends.

These issues can’t simply be treated through health care – John and Meera are both receiving high-quality, professional treatment, but there are many other factors that affect their health and wellbeing.

John’s life changed when he chatted to his estate’s housing officer on a routine visit. She encouraged him to join a walking football group run by the local leisure centre. Slowly he started seeing the benefits of gentle exercise and he began to enjoy being part of a group with his new teammates. He returned to work part-time, adapting his role to suit him better with the support of his employer, and although he still has health issues, he’s feeling happier and healthier than he has in years.

As for Meera, after a campaign by a parent and teacher community action group, the local council decided to close the roads around the school during drop off and pick up times, improving the air quality in the area. Meera does still need her inhaler, but she no longer misses school as often because of her condition.

The campaign also inspired the council’s green spaces team to propose a new initiative, designed with the public. Everyone will soon benefit from more cycle routes and open space to walk and play in.

Healthy communities are defined by much more than our individual actions or our access to traditional health care: green spaces; social activities; education and employment opportunities; healthy food; good housing and transport services all play a hugely important role.

To prevent illness and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities we need to consider all these aspects, and more. This is sometimes called taking a 'population health' approach.

In some areas, people, local groups and services are already working together to improve population health. This isn't easy, but by strengthening partnerships across communities, businesses, local government and the NHS – and with support and adequate funding from central government – we can make a difference.

Find out what The King’s Fund is doing at www.kingsfund.org.uk/populationhealth

About this animation

With thanks to Ruth Robertson for narrating this animation and David Buck, Durka Dougall and Alex Baylis for devising the content. Thank you to Mosaic Motion for design and production.

Meera and John are fictional, as is the town where the animation is set. Our aim was to create something that would demonstrate some aspects of the approach to population health, but we recognise there are many ways of approaching it, and that many organisations, people and communities are involved in delivering it. We're keen to work with others to support this as an integrated approach to health and care.

Join us to find out more about population health

Catch up with our big population health conversation, or find out about our leadership for population health course, running again in early 2020.

Our latest population health research and analysis

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Comments

Dr Malcolm Rigler

Position
Retired NHS GP and Project VOlunteer,
Organisation
The Society of Local Council Clerks (5,000 members)
Comment date
22 August 2019

Working with Ian Morrell ( former Town Clerk ) and now Project Manager at "65 High Street , Nailsea " we have been asked by The Society of Local Council Clerks to create new "learning opportunities" for Town Clerks and Parish Clerks on "Health and Well Being" . This animation would make an excellent contribution to the "learning opportunities" for 5,000 Town Clerks and Parish Clerks. Could we please start an email conversation to explore how this animation can become a permanent part of the "curriculum / learning opportunities" for Town Clerks in England and Wales ?

jen.thorley

Position
Head of Digital,
Organisation
The King's Fund
Comment date
23 August 2019

Hi Malcolm,

Thanks for your comment, and I'm really glad you like the animation. I'll be in touch regarding how the animation can be shared.

Best wishes,

Jen

Lucy Flower

Position
Communications Lead,
Organisation
City Health Care Partnership CIC
Comment date
23 August 2019

This is a great animation, really clear and easy to follow. I've shared it on social media but if you had a version with subtitles, that would be even better as many people tend to watch videos on Facebook and Twitter with the sound off (obviously better for those with a hearing impairment too). But many thanks for producing it, we'll be sharing it with colleagues too.

jen.thorley

Position
Head of Digital,
Organisation
The King's Fund
Comment date
23 August 2019

Hi Lucy,

Great - really pleased to hear you like it! There are subtitles that can be switched on above (from our YouTube channel) but will email you with an alternative link, as we do have versions with subtitles too.

Thanks,

Jen

Michael Lingard

Position
Orthopath, Buteyko Educator, Plantrician,
Organisation
TotalHealthMatters!
Comment date
25 August 2019

We have to return to an age when everyone took more responsibility for their own health and the wellbeing of their neighbour. We cannot prescribe “health”, read my own synopsis of thirty years as a health worker, “Connection- Towards a broader understanding of health in medicine” by Michael Lingard from Amazon.

John Kapp

Position
director,
Organisation
SECTo
Comment date
27 August 2019

Good message. I had arthritis and pain killers made it worse. It went after I discovered active meditations (music and movement) and learned how to relax. I am forwarding this to the councillors on my Health and Wellbeing Board hoping that will work woth the Clinical commissioig Group to co-create a new system of social prescribing whereby GPs can prescribe social interventions and the therapists can be paid as pharmacists are paid for drugs.

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