The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) supports preventive medicine physicians as they promote a wide variety of population health initiatives that apply core tenants of public health to prevent disease, save lives and improve wellbeing.

What is Population Health?

Population health is, fundamentally, an approach to medicine to addresses the influces of health and seeks to prevent disease at a population rather than individual level.

With population health, preventive medicine physicians and medical research professionals aim to go beyond individual determinants of health and focus on the larger, systemic determinants that connect people within a group – whether that is within in a specific geographic location, business or institution or other discernable population.

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Why is Population Health Important?

Most of what influences our health and wellbeing happens outside of one on one clinical encounters. Population health is an incredibly important part of serving the needs of an entire community. For example, in the case of infectious disease or environmental health occurrences, health care professionals can identify and address root causes of poor health at a macro level - focusing on population wide disease mitigation to efficiently and effectively protect community health.

Determinants of Population Health

While there are numerous determinants of population health that can be addressed, the most common determinants of population health are commonly grouped into five domains, include:

  • Social determinants – occupation, social support, class, education and more.
  • Environmental determinants – air quality, water quality, neighborhood design and more.
  • Healthcare determinants – quality of health care, general access to care and cost.
  • Individual determinants – lifestyle habits, diet, exercise and mental health.
  • Genetic determinants – Genetic predisposition to certain diseases and health status.

Four Pillars of Population Health

The foundation for achieving population health goals and strategies relies heavily on the incorporation of four important pillars of population health, as well as the way they work together.

  • Chronic Care Management
    • By focusing on upstream prevention and management of chronic disease, healthcare professionals working at the population level can more effectively deliver care to their population.
  • Quality & Safety
    • Quality and safety initiatives rely on an interprofessional team of healthcare providers focusing on various drivers of health for patients in their population of interest. Quality improvement pairs research with health practice to identify and overcome barriers to good health.
  • Public Health
    • Population health frequently integrates public health practices, focused on prevention... Epidemiologists, environmental health professionals, and health administrator’s work together to create health interventions that benefit the population they care for.
  • Health Policy
    • The final pillar of population health revolves around health policy, which is conducted mainly by researchers, policymakers and legislators. Health policy addresses the underlying systems, structures and policies that influence the health of populations.

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ACPM offers a support system for physicians and medical professionals with a focus on population and public health initiatives for patients all over the globe. Our team is here to help build a better health care system that provides upstream care to populations with more efficiency and health equity.

Not yet a member? Join ACPM and get involved or get in touch with us to share your ideas or for questions, contact our team at or call (202) 466-2044.