Guest Commentary: Systems Engineering for Population Health


James F. Pelegano, MD, MS
Program Director
Master of Science in Healthcare Quality and Safety/Management

This is the first in a series of blog posts previewing the Twelfth Population Health & Care Coordination Colloquium, taking place February 27-29 at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott Hotel.

When we use the phrase “systems engineering” it is not unusual to immediately jump to a manufacturing context. However, the operational approach to population health requires that we engineer systems that bring us a measurement of the health outcomes within a population so that we can more appropriately select our interventions and construct policies that allow us to standardize and analyze our care of specific populations.

The “systems” of which we speak involve multiple components that work together to achieve the goals of evidence based high quality care. During the preconference presentation, Advanced Applications in Population Health, of the Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium we will be using a defined population, neonates, to illustrate these components.

In order to provide an operational understanding of the basic principles, we will use actual clinical cases and data to illustrate how IT systems, international benchmarking, data analysis, outcomes trending, standardized care and focused peer review all combine to create these essential clinical systems. By looking at a specific population we can better understand how these various components work in coordination. We will also look at the interfaces of the various components to better understand what is required from each of the specific parts of the system with respect to information flow and to overcoming specific barriers to success.

The focus on a well-defined population will allow us to be very concrete in our approach and will provide a basis for approaching other well defined populations.

Thus, the learning will be transferable to the development of other clinical systems within these other populations. The participant will leave with an understanding of how these systems are constructed and operationalized at the population/provider interface.

It is only by engineering at this population/provider interface that we can be successful in translating theory into practice and thus impact the determinants that influence the outcomes distribution in the population.

The Twelfth Population Health & Care Coordination Colloquium will be February 27-29 at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriot Hotel. To register, or for further information,, or call 800-503-7439.


  • February 17, 2012

    It was nice to know that you are focusing on a well-defined population which will allow you to be very concrete in your approach and will provide a basis for approaching other well defined populations.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *