Community Health, Population Health and Public Health - Understanding the Differences

By: Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH

April 19, 2017

Man with two dogs

Renown President and CEO Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, provides an overview on the differences between population health and community health.

There is a growing consensus that our health is largely shaped by factors that reside outside the doctor’s office. The places where we live, learn, work and play are just as important to our health as the medical care we receive. Recognizing that, many hospitals and health systems, including Renown Health, have joined the effort to create healthy communities.

As more partners participate in the conversation around improving health, I have noticed that some of the language used to describe this work can be confusing. For instance, many people use the terms “population health” and “community health” interchangeably, even though these words speak to unique concepts. This work is important, and it’s essential that we communicate clearly. To help clear up confusion, here is an overview of the differences among population health, community health and public health, as well as how health systems can create strategic partnerships to make a significant impact on health beyond the hospital walls.

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