​I-CAN

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Why Should Clinicians Focus on Population Health?

Holly Oh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, The Dimock Center in Boston

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:

  • Summarize how patients’ financial difficulties can lead to problems with their health.
  • Discuss the role social inequities play in health care today.
  • Explain how one patient encounter can inspire a clinician to think about a community’s needs.

Description: Holly Oh, a pediatrician at The Dimock Center in Boston, looks back on a memorable patient encounter from almost a decade ago. A young male, complaining of cold symptoms, reminded her that health care is only part of the conversation when discussing a patient's well-being and quality of life. It's important, she explains, to look beyond the symptoms to understand the real health of a patient — and a population. 

 Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think was going through Dr. Oh’s mind as she stood with her hand on the doorknob ready to leave for her Thanksgiving holiday?
  2. How would you define population health?
  3. Why is it important for clinicians to think beyond the patient they are caring for at the moment?
  4. How can socioeconomic issues affect a patient’s health?
  5. Can you provide an example from your local area of how a community resource is improving health?​​​
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