February 7, 2019

What Caught My Eye: The Personas Project

The Partners Population Health Perspectives blog aims to share the opinions and ideas of our leadership team on health care topics related to population health management. In this post, Sree Chaguturu, MD, Chief Population Health Officer, shares his thoughts on The Personas Project from The Commonwealth Fund.

One organization I have great respect for is the Commonwealth Fund. The history of the foundation is worth reading about on their website. Their current focus is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency – particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including those who are low-income, uninsured, and people of color.

Sree Chaguturu, MD, Chief Population Health Officer for Partners HealthCare

They issue a series of periodic newsletters and reports. The newsletters are great synopses of the pressing health policy issues of the day. The reports are independently commissioned investigations that don’t neatly fit into the traditional academic mold. I try to pay close attention to what they release.

The most recent report that caught my eye had to do with “personas in high-need, high-cost patients.” I find the notion of “personas” interesting, and one that we do not use often enough in health care design. In healthcare, we often develop our programs and initiatives with our clinicians and clinical teams at the forefront. We should also include patients in that development calculus. Personas allow us to think about the various types of patients who would receive population health programs. Each persona will generally interact with the program in a different way. If we think about the personas, we can design the programs to meet the needs of a broad and diverse population. As the report outlines:


“A persona helps depict the experiences, motivations, and goals of a group of patients, as well as the barriers they face. Personas offer what aggregate data cannot: firsthand insights into how the health care system not only fails to meet the needs of patients but may even contribute to subpar health outcomes. Ultimately, the personas can offer practical guidance on how consumer‐driven changes could lower costs and improve care.”


Why did this report catch my eye? It drives me to think we, at Partners Population Health, should be doing more to think about how patients are experiencing our programs. How might improvements in how we engage our patients, potentially improve engagement in the programs? And could these changes lead to better health outcomes?

In 2019, our patient engagement team led by Adam Licurse, MD, and Keri Sperry, will be partnering with each of our program teams to think about how we can improve patient engagement across all population health programs. I think the idea of using “personas” may be one of many tools to help improve population health patient engagement. This is just one of the many ways we are continually evaluating, optimizing, and improving the work that we do.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at the personas research and get familiar with the Commonwealth Fund.


Sree Chaguturu, MD is the Chief Population Health Officer at Partners HealthCare and is part of the leadership team focused on insuring that Partners meets its aspirations of improving quality and reducing costs for the populations it serves. Dr. Chaguturu is responsible for oversight and implementation of Partners Healthcare’s Accountable Care Organization which manages the health of over a half million patients.  

Prior to joining Partners, Dr. Chaguturu was a health care consultant at McKinsey and Company, and Vice President of the McKinsey Hospital Institute.  He is a practicing internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Chaguturu received his internal medicine and primary care training at Massachusetts General Hospital and received his undergraduate and medical degree from Brown University.

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