The ‘Old’ is ‘New’ Again?

By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

For context on this question and a deeper dive into the value-added contributions from evidence based best practices (i.e., we know what works), below is Douglas Goldstein’s (aka @eFuturist) chat with David Nash, MD MBA, the current and  founding Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health:


The answer(s) to the question posed may shed timely health[care] innovation insight and contextual wisdom on what’s happening worldwide, but uniquely so in the United States. Keeping one’s ‘eyes on the prize’ [as expressed in the vision for the ACA’s legislative intent] while industry leadership engage with ‘whack-a-mole‘ ecosystem complexity, regulatory drift, dilution ( if not outright conflict) amidst an unrelenting crossfire between health reform ideologues or their proxies, is a challenging task. In an unsustainable perhaps burning platform albeit $3 trillion ‘cottage industry’, the politics of Affordable Care Act implementation continues to inject unprecedented acrimony in a narrative that requires public/private collaboration and trust.

Yet despite the orchestrated ‘signal to noise’ distractions there is progress under the health reform hood – if you will. The world is re-discovering the value proposition of ‘population health‘. Most will no doubt connect with the ‘triple aim’ as popularized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and introduced into health reform lexicon by former Centers for Medicare and Medcaid (CMS) Administrator Dr. Don Berwick. In fact, the entire mission of the ACA and it’s regulatory aftermath can be reduced to the core tenets of the triple aim: “improving the health of the population, enhancing the experience and outcomes of the patient and reducing per capita cost of care for the benefit of communities.”

One representation of this growing directional consensus can be found in the formal meeting of minds between two committed and authoritative industry stakeholders. Recently the only professional association focused exclusively on population health – the Population Health Alliance (PHA), and the sole free standing and accredited degree granting academic institution committed to advancing leadership in the space, the Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH) announced an affiliation agreement to ‘build [population health] capacity for education and advocacy’.

As quoted in the joint Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH) and the Population Health Alliance (PHA) press release:

“The agreement makes it possible for the organizations to work together on shared priorities around population health advocacy and education, including: Developing, marketing and presenting professional programs, conferences and webinars on population health, policy, benefit design, governance and related health care topics. Preparing and submitting joint grant applications and other engagements. PHA has long been an advocate for incorporating academic rigor and research into the evolving population health industry. The collaboration with renowned Jefferson School of Population Health will make that possible in a more robust way for our growing alliance membership.” Fred Goldstein, Executive Director, PHA

“The Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH) has supported the important work of PHA for many years. This type of collaboration, between academia and industry, is a key component to improving population health outcomes across the United States. The job is too big to take on alone, and we are pleased to have a capable and willing partner in PHA.” David Nash MD MBA, Dean, Jefferson School of Population Health

So maybe the more accurate headline for this entry is the rediscovery of prior wisdom since post ACA and fueled by an ‘accountable care’ mantra we’re returning to the original basis that gave rise to the HMO (Health Maintenance Organization). In an HMO the focus is on the health and wellbeing of its ‘members’ (aka population), supported by incentive structures designed to keep members healthy and out of the hospital – which in true integrated delivery systems are cost and NOT revenue centers. We’re still very early in this installment of the journey, so we shall see!

About the Jefferson School of Population Health

The Jefferson School of Population Health (JSPH), established in 2008, is one of six schools and colleges that constitute Thomas Jefferson University, a leading academic health center founded in Philadelphia in 1824 as Jefferson Medical College. As the first designated School of Population Health in the country, JSPH is dedicated to the exploration of policies and forces that determine the health and quality of life of populations, locally, nationally, and globally. Its mission is to prepare leaders with global vision to develop, implement, and evaluate health policies and systems that improve the health of populations and thereby enhance the quality of life.

About the Population Health Alliance

The Population Health Alliance (PHA) is a global trade association of the population health industry. The organization has nearly 100 members representing stakeholders from across the health care delivery system that seek to improve health outcomes, optimize medical and administrative spend, and drive affordability. Through its robust advocacy, research and education initiatives, the PHA offers members a forum to advance shared learning and applied research to further innovation and establish best practices in the population health field.

Learn more via Jefferson School of Population and Population Health Alliance (PHA).



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