2016 Community Benefit Report CHAI_160088756_2016 Community Benefit Report_FIN - - Page 5
CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL COLORADO
The Population Health Approach
Changing the Way We Deliver Healthcare
Imagine a child referred to the Lifestyle Medicine clinic of Children’s Hospital Colorado for
obesity. Not only does this child’s obesity impact their physical health and wellbeing, but it
likely impacts other health areas like susceptibility to injury, asthma and oral health.
Before looking to immediately address the issue of obesity, which
also trickles into these other health conditions, we must first
recognize the comprehensive nature of a child’s care. There are
several other factors that likely contribute to this child’s struggle
with obesity. For example, does this child live in an impoverished
neighborhood where it’s not safe to play outside? Does their
family have access or financial means to purchase healthy foods?
Do they come from a culture where managing obesity isn’t a
priority? Does their school have physical education classes as
part of the curriculum?
When we get to the core of what’s causing health problems, it
consequently impacts the other layers. In fact, only 20 percent
of health depends on clinical care; the other 80 percent depends
on social determinants, according to the University of Wisconsin
Population Health Institute.
Specifically, 40 percent relates to social and economic factors,
such as education, culture, employment, income, community
safety, family and social support; 30 percent to health behaviors
like tobacco use, diet and exercise and alcohol use; and 10 percent
to the physical environment or environmental quality. Many
children experience overlapping determinants, such as low income,
lack of transportation and less access to safe places and role
models, which consequently affects their health and wellbeing.
The future of healthcare depends on how we address and support
the whole picture of a child’s health and begin to change both
the way we deliver healthcare, and the way our population
accesses healthcare. Every population and every community has
a different set of healthcare needs, and delivering care isn’t a one-
We call this population health, where we implement creative
and alternative methods to ensure access to care for the entire
population — in our case, children. The population health
approach is not only about access to medical care; it is about
supporting health and wellness in the home, in communities and
in schools. It’s about delivering healthcare that lasts beyond a
visit to the doctor or a check-in at the clinic.
At Children’s Colorado, one of our missions as an organization is
to create healthier communities through the population health
approach, by investing resources into keeping kids out of our
hospital through preventative programs and partnerships, and by
addressing all aspects of their care.
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