Population health monitoring: an essential public health field in motion: An essential public health field in motion

M. Verschuuren*, J. A. M. van Oers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Population health monitoring, the regular and institutionalized production and dissemination of information and knowledge about the health status of a population, is an essential element of public health. Nevertheless, while epidemiology and biostatistics, for example, are well-recognized disciplines, this does not (yet) apply to population health monitoring. Over the past decade, however, it has matured as a distinct field of expertise.

Objectives
This paper presents a comprehensive model for population health monitoring and describes its current status as a field of expertise. It concludes with an overview of the most important developments that are likely to shape the health information systems and population health monitoring practices of the future.

Results and conclusions
Combining the information pyramid (an application of the data–information–knowledge–wisdom hierarchy), describing outputs, and a so-called monitoring chain, describing activities, results in a comprehensive model for population health monitoring. The steps of the activity chain can be viewed as a stairway by which the information pyramid is climbed, reaching evidence-informed policymaking at the top. Population health monitoring has several inherent strengths, such as its high societal relevance; its integrative, comprehensive, and structured approach; and the fact that it makes use of routinely collected data. In practice, however, secondary use of routine data is often hampered by technical, motivational, economic, political, ethical, and legal barriers. Important developments that will shape health information systems and population health monitoring practices of the future include digitalization and data-driven technology, citizen science, and the growing need for intersectoral approaches. Population health monitoring practice will need to adapt in order to counteract the risks and reap the benefits that these developments hold.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1134-1142
JournalBundesgesundheitsblatt - Gesundheitsforschung - Gesundheitsschutz
Volume63
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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