Understanding Georgia’s communities to address population health

Population health is defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” Population health looks at the overall health of a group, whether it’s a rural community in South Georgia, or the African American population in Atlanta, while accounting for specific needs of that group and potential barriers to care.

Properly addressing population health at a local level is a challenge that healthcare providers, government officials, and community organizations have been working together to achieve in the state of Georgia for decades. Many people view health care as an intensely individual, even private issue, so how then is it possible to tackle health at a population level while still noting the specific needs of every Georgian?

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone. Bringing care closer is even more imperative in communities that lack access to health resources specific to the population. To do this effectively in Georgia, we know the key is to identify the unique needs of each community. This is possible through partnerships with local leaders and nonprofit organizations that have a daily pulse on priority issues among the people they serve. 

For example, the Asian-American population in Doraville, a city outside of Atlanta, often faces language and education barriers when accessing proper health care. Identifying this need led us to open a resource center to help the Asian community in the area better navigate the healthcare system. The center offers education and customer service about healthcare and Medicare benefits in English, Korean and Vietnamese, as well as health and wellness programs. 

The resource center opened in the fall of 2021 as the first of its kind in Georgia. Until then, the health needs of this Asian population in the greater Atlanta area were largely going unaddressed.

Like in Doraville, underserved communities in South Atlanta often lack access to care or the right educational tools to prioritize health. That’s why UnitedHealth Group and Morehouse School of Medicine teamed up to launch a Community Health Worker Training Program for high school students in the area.

The program seeks to increase the number of trained student community health workers who can, in turn, engage family, peers and community members in strategies for better health. The program prioritizes population health issues in the students’ neighborhoods while promoting health education and career opportunities.

Chronic disease is another population health issue that can’t always be confined to a geographic location or racial demographic. According to the 2021 America’s Health Rankings report, 11.6% of the population in Georgia suffers from diabetes. Many of those individuals are children or families who lack the resources or community support to address the condition.

Recognizing this need, we partnered with Camp Kudzu, an organization serving children and families in Georgia affected by type 1 diabetes, to host outings across the state for families to receive diabetes education and resources while fostering a sense of community for those suffering from the disease. 

We are incredibly proud to have supported each of these local initiatives as part of our commitment to bringing care closer in the state of Georgia. Identifying a need in an underserved community is the crucial first step to addressing local population health. To better a community’s access to care and increase health equity for everyone, it’s vital to first understand the people and populations who live and work there. 

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