If you practice clinical anesthesiology, you probably enjoy focusing on one patient at a time within the anesthesia cockpit at the head of the O.R. table. You may wonder how “population health” – one of the most widely used buzzwords in health care today – could possibly be relevant to you and your practice.

But as physician anesthesiologists, we work with the entire population of patients who present for acute care. We encounter patients from every demographic group and every part of the hospital or health system. Our care contributes to the immediate outcomes of our patients and has profound – often underestimated – effects on their long-term health and well-being.

Today, health systems are directing their strategic plans toward the long-term health of their enrolled patients, and toward preventing rather than treating illness and complications. They use the...

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