"Population health" is a relatively new term, and one that's used in a variety of ways. In their paper "What Is Population Health," Kindig and Stoddart said the following:

[W]e propose that population health as a concept of health be defined as "the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group." These populations are often geographic regions, such as nations or communities, but they can also be other groups, such as employees, ethnic groups, disabled persons, or prisoners. Such populations are of relevance to policymakers. In addition, many determinants of health, such as medical care systems, the social environment, and the physical environment, have their biological impact on individuals in part at a population level.

Defining population health this way requires some measure(s) of health outcomes of populations, including their distribution throughout the population. We chose the broader term “health outcomes” rather than the more narrow term “health status”; we believe the latter refers to health at a point in time rather than over a period of years. We do not believe that there is any one definitive measure, but we argue that the development and validation of such measures for different purposes is a critical task for the field of population health research.

In an August 2016 presentation to the Texas DSRIP Learning Collaborative, Ayanna Clark said the following:

The term population health describes both:

  • A clinical perspective focused on delivery of care to groups in a health system; and
  • A broad perspective focused on the health of all people in a geographic area and emphasizes multisector approaches and incorporation of nonclinical interventions to address social determinants of health.

The Importance of a Common Set of Population Health Outcomes:

  • A common set of population health outcomes provides a portrait of a community's health. Data can help residents, community groups, and professional organizations prioritize prevention activities and build coalitions to make improvements and address existing problems.
  • A common set of population health outcomes can facilitate comparisons across populations, promote collaboration between organizations conducting assessments, assist in establishing a shared understanding of the factors that influence health, and help to galvanize residents to work collaboratively to improve community health.