Population health can help providers avoid care disconnects


One expert explains how providers can use population health to identify “ticking time bombs.”

Population health initiatives can help providers close critical gaps in patient care, particularly when it comes to finding ways to influence and eventually change patient behavior.

A survey of 500 patients and 150 healthcare providers by Conduent Healthcare found that:

  • 67% of providers believe poor eating habits are preventing better health for patients;

  • 65% believe a barrier to better health is lack of exercise; and

  • 59% attributed poor health to patients delaying or not going to the doctor.

Clayton Nicholas, general manager of the healthcare provider industry for Conduent Healthcare, says analytics from payers, providers, EHRs, and even patient provided data, can help providers identify patients (like the above), who would benefit from population health initiatives.

“The goal is identifying the ‘ticking time bombs’ and using population health strategies to prevent patients from becoming high risk patients by prioritizing care, using proper care coordination and management, and encouraging medication adherence to ensure individual patients follow their care plans,” Nicholas says.

Nicholas added that providers have an opportunity to use population health strategies to better connect with their patients. “We believe, especially in the drive toward value-based care, providers need to leverage health data and analytics to better understand the populations they serve, and the needs and preferences at a patient level.  Then they can develop more proactive and targeted strategies to improve care based on the patient’s point of view and their specific needs,” he says.

Patients’ specific needs

The survey findings reveal several disconnects between physicians and patients that providers should consider mending.

For example, it found a gap in the perception of the usefulness of healthcare technology. According to the survey, 70% of patients are not aware of telehealth, and most who are have higher incomes.

Another example: Though more than half of providers think patients are using health and fitness mobile apps, 60% of patients report that they do not use them.

“We can’t assume chronic care patients are using technology, we need to educate them on the value of technology in healthcare and how it can help patients who are at high risk with care plans and regimens. This acknowledgement and education could lead to improved outcomes and results,” Nicholas says.

The survey also found that nearly 60% of patients report that side effects are the top question they ask providers, while 50% of providers say that they ask about costs most often.

Though patients say they ask less about healthcare costs, they report that costs often lead them to avoid treatment (85% say they have delayed or not sought treatment due to costs).

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