Lecture – Achieving Population Health Through a Learning Health Community

Available with English captions.

Presented by Philip S. Wang, MD, PhD, Cambridge Health Alliance – The Edward P. Lawrence Quality Care Lecture

Why do we need a population health approach to mental health? How can we use learning health systems and communities to improve mental health care for the populations we serve?

These are some of the questions addressed by Philip S. Wang, MD, PhD, in this presentation. Wang is chief of psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance.

Wang details the mental health challenges facing specific communities in the United States. He points out that more than half of the Americans develop a mental health condition by the age of 14, and nearly three-quarters by age 24. Drilling down, he reports that people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent, as well as members of sexual minority groups, are more likely to have mental health conditions than other groups. They are also less likely to receive services.

Population health, Wang argues, could hold the key to improving care in these communities. This approach focuses on health statuses and outcomes within specific groups rather than on specific individuals. With population health, Wang says, health professionals gain a better understanding of the factors that can lead to mental health challenges in certain communities. This can lead to preventive care, early interventions, better outcomes, and a more cost-efficient use of health care resources.

Watch now to learn about:

  • Population health and why it is needed in mental health care
  • Learning health systems and how they can lead to the development of learning health communities
  • How Cambridge Health Alliance is using learning health systems to improve mental health services for the communities it serves

Wang states that learning health systems are crucial to the implementation of population health approaches to mental health care. He describes how he and his colleagues at Cambridge Health Alliance are collecting mental health data across the health system. They use this information to apply population health principles and improve care for all patients.

Also, he reports that his organization is working with community partners to collect even more information on patient populations. Drawing on this large set of data, Cambridge Health Alliance is developing not only a learning health system, but a learning health community. Such communities, Wang argues, can improve health equity, boost early detection, intervention, and prevention, and promote better health.