Published in the January 2018 print edition of Population Health News.



Given that individual behavior explains an estimated 40% of health status, the next generation of healthcare innovation must unleash the significant healing potential that patients themselves possess. To date, population health innovation has focused heavily on developing value-based payment and clinical collaboration models—but Population Health 2.0 will also require providers crack open the black box of human behavior to discern and address the underlying reasons patients fail in their basic health goals. A theory called “Jobs to Be Done,” outlined in our latest research paper, can help. It asserts that everything we do, we do to make progress in a particular circumstance—that is, to do a “job.”

For example, a provider might discover that her patient, a recovering smoker, has “hired” smoke breaks with colleagues to do the “job” of feeling less lonely. This insight prompts the question: How can we help her accomplish that job in a healthier way? The resulting dialogue opens up a universe of realistic health improvement opportunities—not by demanding patients prioritize health, but by helping patients accomplish their existing jobs in ways that enhance their health. A Jobs approach doesn’t replace evidence-based clinical intervention. It formally integrates the real experts in patient behavior into the care planning process: patients themselves. If we are to achieve high-quality, financially sustainable population health in America, they are a resource we can no longer afford to squander.


  • Rebecca Fogg
    Rebecca Fogg