Healthcare leaders expect to recoup investments in technology, staff and facilities that support new models of care,including accountable care organizations, within four years, according to a new survey.
U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP, surveyed 296 healthcare managers and executives in November, finding that 20% expect to recoup investments in information technology and data and analytics tools in one to two years. Another 36% said they expect such investments to pay for themselves within four years. Twenty-nine percent of respondents put the payback period at under five years, while 14% said they didn’t expect to recoup costs under any timeframe.
Slightly more than a third of the online survey's respondents said preventive care will be the biggest clinical benefit of population health management, while 23% said the development of evidenced-based clinical protocols to improve the efficiency of care would be the biggest benefit.
Managing chronic diseases, which are increasingly being carried out by specialty ACOs, was cited by 21% of respondents as the biggest benefit of population management.
The industry is undergoing a shift from fee-for-service to value-based models such as bundled payments and ACOs. The new models place more risk on healthcare providers to encourage preventive care and require substantial investments in information technology and analytics to parse treatment costs and track patient outcomes.
Personnel to support the new data infrastructures are now needed, as are specialists in technology, telemedicine, data science and actuarial science. The industry also needs to redesign care management processes, develop evidence-based medical protocols, and create a strong change management strategy and roadmap, according to Joe Kuehn, a KPMG partner with the healthcare advisory practice.
Yet, just 24% of the survey’s respondents characterized their current population health management capabilities as "mature", while 38% describe their capabilities as in the "elementary stages," 23% described them as being in the infancy stage, and 15% said they’re "nonexistent".
The American College of Healthcare Executives listed population health as the 8th biggest concern, ahead of technology and personnel shortages, according to KPMG. "Healthcare providers are facing a seismic shift in the coming years, largely because government and commercial payers will increasingly decline to pay for avoidable hospital visits," Kuehn said. "Providers and other participants in the care delivery system need the real time data and analytic tools to not only manage and improve the quality of care provided, but also the ability to measure costs to operate efficiently."
"Our clients see benefits from population health management programs as a part of the solution to reduce avoidable medical costs and variability in care," said West Johnson, a KPMG advisory partner who heads provider transformation. "Preventive care is given a big priority in these programs, since they deliver improvements in efficient and effective care with a high degree of patient engagement."