Relationships between patient and caregiver are the heart of health care. If you think you could be suffering from a severe disease, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible. Your primary care physician will examine your symptoms, look at your past medical records, and perhaps come up with a treatment plan for you.
However, for several experts, the provision of medical care is not simply about the connection that exists between a physician and a patient; rather, it is about the interaction that exists between caregivers and the community as a whole. As opposed to focusing only on the health and wellbeing of individual patients, professionals in the domains of population health and public health are able to take into account the requirements of larger groups.
But what exactly is the difference between population health vs public health? And what are the key differences between the two fields that you need to be aware of if you are considering a career in the medical field?
What is Population Health?
The health outcomes and statuses of a whole group of individuals are what are referred to as the population’s health. The majority of the time, this population is spoken about in relation to geography. For instance, an expert in population health can concentrate on the statuses and results of a certain neighborhood, town, or region.
The health of a population is determined by a variety of variables, including but not limited to poverty, educational possibilities, and housing options. For instance, population health professionals may do an analysis of a town and discover a high prevalence of juvenile obesity, which they may be able to relate to the unhealthy meals that are offered in a school cafeteria that lacks sufficient funding.
In general, population health professionals put less of an emphasis on the treatment of chronic illnesses and more of an emphasis on educating the general community to assist in the prevention of these disorders from ever occurring. An expert in population health could, for instance, argue for improved school nutrition programmes, for more equal access to medical care, for initiatives to eliminate environmental contaminants, or for wider availability of contraceptives.
The phrase “social determinants of health,” or SDOH for short, is often discussed in the context of population health. SDOH are factors that may have an influence that can be measured on the health outcomes of a particular population. Access to health care services and transportation are two examples of these, along with public standards and attitudes about the importance of public safety.
What is Public Health?
Population health and the practice of public health are so intrinsically linked to one another that the two phrases are often interchanged in the medical community. In a broad sense, the emphasis of public health is on bringing about extensive social change, including changes in legislation, in order to enhance the overall health status of large populations. Or, to put it another way, the mission of public health is to improve and protect the health of communities via outreach and health education, research, and policy recommendations.
The primary difference between population health vs public health is that population health tends to concentrate on a very small group, the borders of which are often dictated by geographic constraints. In the field of public health, bigger communities are often addressed, particularly those groups that are not characterized by geography but rather by criteria such as color, gender, immigrant status, disability level, or any number of other factors.
Public Health and Population Health as a Career Path
Opportunities to make a substantial contribution to the health and happiness of large groups may be found in the fields of public health and population health. Career opportunities may be found in both fields for those who have completed a formal clinical training programme as well as students majoring in health administration.
For instance, if you get a degree in nursing or medicine, you could be able to provide direct patient treatment in community health clinics or other settings, or you might be able to work in the field of public health education.
Advanced degrees in health administration or public health are the traditional educational path taken by health care workers whose concentration is on population or public health. These types of programmes often provide students with the opportunity to concentrate in areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, or health policy.
The Bottom Line
Both population health and public health provide possibilities for those who desire to make a difference in the world by fostering the growth of healthy communities and fostering conditions in which all individuals have access to preventive care services. Getting the appropriate education should be your first priority, however.