In our current High Reliability episode, we discuss the concept of Population Health related to healthcare and facilities. Our guests are Pamela Neckar and Tom Richert.

Pam is a Partner at Bostwick Design Partnership, headquartered in Cleveland. Pam also serves as CFO with Bostwick Design. Tom Richert is the Principal at RisingTerrain LLC, a consulting firm located in Boston. Tom works with healthcare organizations and healthcare project teams using lean practices.

Bostwick Design and RisingTerrain are partnered together on a Joint Venture for a Population Health project in Cleveland, working with the Director of Public Health in that city. Pam and Tom share exciting details about this ongoing project in the pod titled “Population Health,” which we excerpt below via this brief Q&A.

Q: What is population health?

Pam: Population Health has a different meaning to many different people. The way that we like to look at it is, it’s about the influential role of both the social and economic forces, in combination with the biological and environmental factors, that shape an entire population. 

So what does all that mean? Really our determinants of health. Our medical care systems. Our social environments. Our physical environments. All three of these come together and have an impact on the population. So it’s all about our health and our well-being that is shaped by our total environment.

Q: How long has the concept of population health been around?

Pam: It has been growing and I think we now see the beginning of a larger movement. You know for years, decades, there has been a big focus on sustainability in our industry and certainly those that are in healthcare facilities. We are very well attuned to sustainability and the impact of the environment and impact of the environment on the health of the population.

Unfortunately, it (population health) hasn’t gotten the press. It hasn’t gotten the attention. You know, we are in the business of designing buildings and look for that label that it is Leed Certified and its impact on the environment. We’re looking at population health as what impact is it having on the population.

Tom: As I talk to different hospitals, I see what Pam said. They (hospitals) are still grappling exactly what they want to do with this idea of population health, but it is gaining.

Q: What does a population health campus look like?

Tom: The exact campus mix (of buildings and services) may vary by location and the needs of the neighborhood. People will oftentimes delay or defer getting proper health treatment because of the effort that it takes to get to a large central campus. It’s challenging as opposed to having a center that is in their community nearby that they have greater comfort in. So this (the campus) will encourage people to get the more traditional healthcare services that are still necessary. They will get them earlier and it will be more effective. 

The exact balance of how large is the emergency department or what type of ambulatory services may be there could vary by location. But yes, those traditional healthcare services are still going to be required (in a population health-focused campus).

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