Academy to focus on population health across the Black Country and West Birmingham
Across the Black Country and West Birmingham, NHS and Local Authorities are working together to improve the health and wellbeing of 1.5 million people.
Whilst overall we are seeing an increase in life expectancy for people in the Black Country and West Birmingham, we are seeing a decrease in the healthy life expectancy which means for many people they are living longer in ill health. This not only creates a burden on individuals and their quality of life, but it also impacts the health and care system.
Therefore, to enable NHS and Local Authorities in the Black Country and West Birmingham to respond to the changing health needs of their population, an Academy is being introduced. The newly formed Academy will play a key role in understanding population health challenges and will use data insights to inform solutions to the challenges people face across the Black Country and West Birmingham. This approach is known as population health management.
Population health management is an approach that aims to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce health inequalities across an entire population. This includes focusing on the wider determinants of health, which have a significant impact as only 20% of a person’s health outcomes are attributed to the ability to access good quality health care and the crucial role of communities and local people.
Locally, the Academy will help organisations to:
- build a shared knowledge and understanding of the Black Country and West Birmingham population and of the solutions for achieving better outcomes for local people
- provide and promote standardised approaches to evaluation, learning and system improvement, supporting a reduction in unwarranted variation and sharing best practice
- provide a mechanism for coordinating cross-system training and development initiatives and facilitate the development of a single workforce strategy
- enable the health and care system to coordinate improvement activities (including those promoted by national/regional bodies), ensuring they are sustainable and secure the optimal benefits.
The NHS Long Term Plan places a heavy emphasis on prevention and early diagnosis, along with the integration of health and care services, where community services, public health, social care, voluntary sector, police, fire service, GPs and hospitals are all working better together.
What does this mean for local people?
For local people, this means that health and care services are being more proactive in helping people to manage their health and wellbeing, providing more personalised care when it’s needed and ensuring that local services are working together to offer a wider range of support closer to people’s homes.
Examples of how population insights will be used across the Black Country and West Birmingham……
- Identifying people who are more likely to receive a late diagnosis for cancer and working with them to explore what we could do differently to encourage earlier diagnosis.
- Exploring patient preferences for people with advance serious illness and ways that these can be met.
- Exploring whether access to diabetes care and achievement of positive diabetes outcomes is equal across different groups in Black Country and West Birmingham and what we could do differently to support more proactive care in those where outcomes could be improved.
- Identifying and developing people who work in the NHS and Local Authority with the skills needed to answer these questions.
In 2019, we ran a successful PCN development programme with Dartmouth US and RightCare. 6 PCNs from the Black Country and West Birmingham joined this programme and each chose a target population and bought together a team to support idea development for that population. They attended workshops focusing on 8 core capabilities: Using Logic for learning; Learning from Variation; Delivery what is Valued; Measuring what Matters; Delivering with Teams; Organizing for Innovation; Leading for Accountability; and Governing for Sustainability. Their confidence in each of these areas was measured before and after the programme.
Not only were participants far more confident in the core capabilities at the end of the programme, they had developed new approaches for their population. Dr James Gwilt you’re your Health Partnership PCN, describes how the programme led to a new appointment and social prescribing approach for their PCN. We will be running the course again this year to support our PCN development.