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Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Population Health Improvement: Opportunities for Behavioral Medicine

Lila J. Rutten, PhD, MPH
Jennifer L. St. Sauver PhD, MPH

Although the U.S. spends more on medical care than any other industrialized nation, its citizens suffer poorer health and live shorter lives than those living in comparable countries. This wealth-health paradox highlights the complex interactions among environmental, social, and behavioral factors that determine health. Building upon mounting evidence documenting the multi-level determinants of health outcomes, the Institute of Medicine recently established the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement. Roundtable leaders have envisioned the creation of an expanded multi-sector health system beyond traditional medical systems to promote health equality, increase life expectancy, and improve quality of life. To achieve these goals, the Roundtable aims to disseminate knowledge and initiate multi-sector efforts to improve population health. Broadly, the Roundtable will explore creative solutions to improve population health through: expanded reimbursement models that include coverage of non-clinical, population-level interventions; integration of primary care and public health; and engagement of a diversity of community organizations in efforts to improve population health.

The Population Health Improvement Roundtable is co-chaired by Dr. George Isham, Senior Advisor at HealthPartners, Inc. and Dr. David Kindig, Professor Emeritus of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Members of the Roundtable comprise a multidisciplinary team including experts from education, public health, clinical medicine, the social sciences, and the business sector. A full Roundtable member roster is available at: www.iom.edu/pophealthrt.  The Roundtable will convene three to six public workshops each year through 2015 in an effort to inform and energize an enduring population health improvement movement.  Workshop themes are member driven, and will address a range of topics relevant to population health improvement including integrating primary care and public health, population health communication strategies, and the role of education in population health. The first Workshop of the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement, took place on June 13, 2013, at the National Academy of Sciences with a series of presentations and discussions focused on the Population Health Implications of the Affordable Care Act. Workshop themes for the remainder of 2013 include Health in All Policies and Practices (September 19, 2013 in Washington DC) and Population Health Goals and Metrics (December 5, 2013 in Irvine, CA).

The ecological conceptualization of health determinants and outcomes and the multidisciplinary approach of the Roundtable align with the Society of Behavioral Medicine mission to promote research on environmental, social, and behavioral influences on health, and translation of research to advance the health and welfare of communities and populations. The Behavioral Science focus on behavioral, cognitive, social, and environmental factors that affect health and quality of life across the lifespan can inform efforts to improve population health. A window of opportunity exists for behavioral scientists to bring to bear methodological and content expertise to inform the emerging population health improvement movement. SBM members who may be interested in participating the public workshops or learning more about the IOM Population Health Improvement Roundtable can find out more at: www.iom.edu/pophealthrt.