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What Does a Population Health Manager Do?

June 11, 2021  |  Category: Healthcare Administration

A man standing indoors and smiling.

Health is often thought of in individual terms, but population health managers focus on the health of defined groups. Population health management is the process of improving health outcomes of groups through creating and evaluating health programs that address specific needs.

Population health professionals perform a range of tasks, from identifying and researching community needs to developing programs and conducting community outreach. A key goal of those in the profession is to reduce health disparities between groups dictated by social determinants of health (SDOH) such as location or income. Earning a bachelor’s in healthcare administration can be an important first step for those interested in pursuing a career in the field.

Tasks of a Population Health Manager

Population health managers work to improve group health outcomes through community engagement and targeted programs. Groups can be designated based on their geographic community, ethnicity, employer, age, or specific chronic health condition. Other examples of group designations include drug addicts, prisoners, survivors of abuse, and those with mental health issues.

Getting to Know the Community

Before they can identify effective solutions to health issues, population health managers must understand the communities they aim to serve. Community outreach and research activities not only help managers identify areas of need, they also help spread awareness of available health programs.

Data Analysis and Program Development

Population health managers work within the community to analyze health data and identify policies and programs that can improve outcomes and address inequities. They also measure existing programs’ participation and success rates to determine their effectiveness.
For example, if those with chronic conditions are often visiting the emergency room, a population health manager could analyze emergency room data to discover why, and then design a solution. The solution could be creating a program that targets these individuals and offers a separate service. The process for putting this program in place could involve writing proposals for funding, creating action plans to launch the program, and ensuring that the program meets regulations.

Creating Partnerships

Population health professionals establish partnerships with healthcare facilities, community groups, and businesses to expand their reach and offer increased wellness opportunities and resources to community members. This is one way their work differs from the similar work of public health officials. While public health does offer policy recommendations and outreach, population health goes further to bring health agencies and organizations together to improve overall community health.

Program Management

One task of population health managers is overseeing programs that aim to improve clinical health outcomes for certain population groups, such as those with chronic conditions. Managing programs includes overseeing budgets, setting the schedules of employees such as receptionists and administrators, and supervising daily operations. Managers also coordinate with healthcare professionals such as physicians when necessary.

Steps to Enter into Population Health Management

Becoming a population health manager requires the right education and experience. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, public administration, public health, or a related field is a basic requirement for the field. Management positions also require relevant work experience. This might include work as a substance abuse counselor to gain insight into the concerns of a specific community before advancing to a population health manager role. A graduate degree such as a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) can also help individuals advance to the management level.

Skills of an Effective Population Health Manager

To be effective, population health managers should develop these specific skills:

  • Analysis: Monitoring a program’s effectiveness through program data is a key part of the job.
  • Communication: Communicating clearly in different settings, from board meetings to town halls, is crucial to proposing new programs and performing community outreach.
  • Management: Overseeing programs and initiatives from start to finish requires leading a team and managing every step, emphasizing decision-making skills, self-confidence, and organizing capabilities.
  • Problem-solving: Addressing team-related issues, managing community relations, and solving big-picture health issues all require strong problem-solving skills.
  • Time management: Allotting time for tasks, managing workloads, and prioritizing projects is essential when working on multiple programs at once.
  • Strategic planning: Creating a successful program requires outlining a clear mission, scheduling a timeline, and establishing benchmarks to measure progress.

Job Outlook and Salary

The field of population health management, part of the broader category of social and community service managers, is projected to grow 17% between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), much faster than the job market as a whole. The BLS reports that the median salary for the field was $67,150 as of May 2019.

Start Your Career as a Population Health Manager at AdventHealth University Online

The right degree is your first step to a career in population health management. AdventHealth University Online’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration prepares students to positively impact their communities with courses such as Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Healthcare Information Systems Management and Informatics, and Healthcare Strategic Planning and Decision Making. Begin your journey today and become a change-maker in population health with AdventHealth University Online.

Recommended Readings
5 Types of Leadership Styles in Healthcare
Healthcare Administration: Salary, Careers, and Education
What Do Healthcare Administrators Do?

American Hospital Association Center for Health Innovation, Population Health Management
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What Is Population Health?
Heluna Health, “Why Systems Thinking in Population Health Is Important”
PayScale, Average Population Health Manager Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers