Population Health


By the Numbers (2016 – 24)

Measuring the impact of the initiative’s first eight years of work

18,394 students engaged

415 funded student awards

1,794 faculty engaged

196 funded faculty projects

$9.80:1 return on investment from funded faculty projects

116 peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from funded faculty projects

57 supported grant applications

$93.1 M in supported grant applications

3 funded faculty hires

The vision of the Population Health Initiative is to create a world where all people can live healthier and more fulfilling lives. Progress needs to be consistent and steady if we are to achieve this vision, meaning we must be able to evaluate whether we are successfully advancing the initiative’s work.

To support this evaluation, we wish to measure progress of the initiative as a whole, and we also want to track how initiative-funded projects are impacting major population health challenges. As a result, our evaluation plan consists of two separate components:

  1. The first component tracks the impact that is realized from direct investments by the initiative.
  2. The second component provides a framework, or overlay, of areas that we consider to be important within any project we fund. The framework is not intended to dictate specific measures of how a funded project team should evaluate their work, but rather to offer guidance to investigators who lead individual projects. This delegation creates flexibility that allows for both innovation and project-specific variations, while still ensuring that measures of success are consistently tracked across projects.

Evaluating the Population Health Initiative

The initiative-level approach to evaluation, which consists of a combination of metrics intended for either external reporting or internal process improvement, follows.

Evaluation goals (institutional-level metrics):

  1. To rigorously track the impact that results from the initiative’s investments (e.g., funding, resources, time).
  2. To learn which strategies work best in achieving initiative goals, and to iteratively refine and improve the approaches to this work.
1. Total projects funded and overall investment (i.e., central, philanthropic, and departmental funds) in pilot research grants 2. Return on investment for pilot research grants (i.e., seed funding led to X% ROI via follow-on funding, or to patents or other impacts)
3. Number of faculty engaged through partnership work, grants, courses, and other initiative activities and programs 4. New faculty collaborations initiated through initiative-related activities
5. Number of direct population health faculty recruitments and their impact (e.g., interdisciplinary publications, cross-unit grant awards, and so forth) 6. Increased departmental recognition of collaboration and community engagement in promotion and tenure guidelines and in new faculty appointments
7. Number of students engaged by the initiative through courses, programs, research projects, internships, fellowships, rotations, and community-based work 8. Changes to institutional culture inspired by the initiative (e. g., infrastructure to support community-focused and interdisciplinary work, changes in how schools/colleges hire, and so forth)
9. Number of new initiative-led external partnerships (e.g., academic, foundation, government, industry) and associated new funding 10. Overall annual UW investment in population health (via external grants, philanthropy, and contracts)
11. Number of new or strengthened community partnerships resulting from initiative activities 12. Increase in the awareness of the UW as a world leader in population health

Evaluating initiative-funded projects

The initiative also offers a framework to inform the development of project-specific metrics by the UW investigators who lead initiative-funded projects.

This framework is intended to offer an overlay that highlights areas we believe are important within any population health challenge an investigative team will take on. Actual metrics will be developed and tracked by investigators at the individual project level.

Interdisciplinary collaboration:

  • Is there input and/or collaboration from all possible disciplines that can make an impact on solving the problem?
  • Does the project follow known best practices for functioning as an effective team?

Community engagement:

  • Is there a significant degree of community and partner involvement and input to project design?
  • Is the engagement reciprocal and intentional?
  • Will the project have a positive impact on the community and the UW?
  • Does the project team demonstrate cultural humility?

Application in real-world settings:

  • Does the intervention bring about measurable, positive change?
  • Is the intervention sustainable?
  • Is the intervention adopted by the community it is intended to benefit?
  • Is there potential to scale or adapt the intervention to other settings?