Why is social investment so important when looking at population health in the Middle East?

| 25 April 2023

Population health has become a key topic when looking at healthcare. Population health approaches can help to reduce costs by focusing on prevention and health promotion, reducing the demand for expensive healthcare services.

With the move to implement value-based care within the Middle East, population health approaches can help identify health needs, target interventions to specific populations, promote prevention and disease management, address health disparities, and improve the overall value of care delivered.

Advances in data analytics have it possible to analyse large amounts of health data and identify patterns and trends in health outcomes.

Value-based care

In Saudi Arabia they have launched a Value Based Healthcare programme which aims to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. It emphasises the importance of patient centred care, and rewarding providers based on the quality of care delivered.

As value-based care rewards providers for improving health outcomes and patient satisfaction, population health can help to achieve these goals.

1)     Identify populations at risk for certain conditions

2)     Emphasise the importance of prevention and disease management, addressing the risk factors and promoting healthy behaviours

3)     Emphasise the importance of care coordination and collaboration among healthcare providers

4)     By tracking and measuring outcomes, healthcare providers can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to improve the overall value of care delivered.


Social determinants

Population health approaches often fall short when it comes to addressing social determinants of health, such as poverty, education, housing, and employment. Social determinants can contribute hugely to poor health outcomes, and cannot be addressed by healthcare services alone

For example, lack of education can limit employment opportunities, leading to poverty. Poor housing conditions can lead to environmental hazards.

In the Middle East there are significant disparities in access to healthcare and health outcomes among different population groups. Social investments can help address these disparities by improving access to healthcare service, reducing poverty rates, promoting education and healthy behaviours, ultimately improving health outcomes, and achieving the goals of value-based care.


Where has social Investment been used most effectively?

1)     Universal healthcare coverage: Countries such as Canada, UK and France have implemented universal coverage which ensures affordable healthcare services regardless of their income of social status.

2)     Early Childhood Education: Counties such as Finland and Sweden have implemented universal early childhood education programmes to improve cognitive development and academic achievement. Which in turn reduces poverty rates and improve health outcomes later in life

3)     Housing Stability: Certain cities in Canada have implemented housing programmes that provide stable, affordable housing to low-income residents. This in turn reduces homelessness, overcrowding, and housing instability, which are associated with poor health outcomes

4)     Nutrition: Countries such as Japan and South Korea have implemented programmes that promote health eating habits and access to health food options

5)     Income support: Earned Income Tax Credit in the United States provides tax credits to low-income workers, which has been associated with improved health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs



In summary, population health alone may not be enough if we do not also consider social investment. Social factors have a significant impact on health outcomes and improving population health requires a broader investment in social factors that influence health.

By investing in social factors that influence health, we can help to address health disparities and promote health equity, ensuring that everyone can achieve their highest level of health. It can also improve the efficiency of the healthcare system by reducing the demand for expensive healthcare services and focusing on prevention and health promotion.

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