In an opinion column for The Milbank Quarterly, Paula Lantz, associate dean for academic affairs and professor at the Ford School, warns that medicalization of population health will leave some people behind, as it focuses more on individual treatment instead of public policy prevention methods.
“Examples of medicalization abound,” writes Lantz in the December 2018 piece titled “The Medicalization of Population Health: Who Will Stay Upstream?”. One example she offers is obesity. Lantz then enumerates the problems she sees with a medicalized approach, including “denominator shrinkage” of populations and increased emphasis on downstream drivers of health problems.
Ultimately, she deems the efforts to serve smaller groups of those on health plans and patient systems as “woefully insufficient if the overarching goal is improved health outcomes and health equity at the societal level.” Lantz urges policymakers, researchers, and advocates to stay committed to interventions and reforms that will have broader impact.