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At the recent Midas+ Annual Symposium, C-level healthcare executives were asked about their perspective on population health management. Here's what they said.
Healthcare organizations have access to an incredible amount of data today, and with this data, comes great opportunity. As the healthcare industry continues its quest to consistently improve care and ensure the management of that care is effective and efficient, it’s more important than ever for organizations to find meaningful ways to use this data to improve the health of the people within their communities.
Justin LanningGiven the overwhelming amount of data available, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. To start making sense of the data, adopting a strategy focused on population health management is critical.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies four key determinants of a population’s health: genetics, medical care, lifestyle and health behaviors, as well as physical and social environment. Healthcare providers are better skilled to identify at-risk populations when they understand the unique make-up of these factors in their community. The goal is timelier and personalized clinical interventions that can reduce costs and improve care.
A smart population health initiative should include these three prongs:
1. Visualization dashboards so healthcare providers can view a wide range of socioeconomic data at the zip-code level, and offer easily digestible data and actionable recommendations.
2. Databases of evidence-based programs and policies already shown to improve a community’s health.
3. Evaluations and analysis to help clients understand the impact of their population health management efforts.
At the recent Midas+ Annual Symposium, 35 C-level healthcare executives were asked about their perspective on population health management. The group represented over 80,000 beds from more than 480 hospitals. Respondents indicated that they were optimistic about the progress their organizations can make, despite a number of challenges.
Noteworthy survey results
The group of executives was asked to rank five components of a definition of population health in order of significance. The executives polled said that the most important requirement of a population health management program is that it “facilitates care across the health continuum” and that it “supports providing the highest quality of care at the lowest cost.”
They ranked components of population health in the following order:
1. Facilitates care across the health continuum
2. Supports providing the highest quality of care at the lowest cost
3. Uses actionable insight for patient care based on a variety of data
4. Targets a specific population of individuals
5. Enables patient engagement
The group unanimously agreed that population health management is critical as the U.S. shifts to more value-based healthcare reimbursement and delivery models. More than 80% strongly agreed with this sentiment, while 19% said they “somewhat agree.” This is no surprise. With providers compensated for successful health outcomes, it’s essential for them to focus on effective management of patient populations.
A notable example of implementing population health strategies in a meaningful way is a coalition of over 100 organizations in San Francisco that analyzed regional data that identified emergency rooms that had high admission rates associated with alcohol abuse. The data informed the best placement of a “Sobering Center.” Now, people who are intoxicated are brought there instead of a hospital emergency room. The Medical Respite and Sobering Center’s return on investment is over $9 million per year, and it improves delivery of care.
This type of success story will be more and more common in the next few years. More than 65%of the executives polled believe their organizations will begin delivering a fully-scaled population health management program within five years, while 16% report their organizations are already doing so. Improving health outcomes was cited as the most important reason, followed by improving patient relationships, containing costs and increasing revenue opportunity.
Top Obstacles to Successful Population Health Management
As with any fundamental change in an industry, there are several obstacles to successful implementation and adoption of population health management. The executives polled indicated that the biggest challenge is data management and integration capabilities, followed by lack of incentives and too much risk, and poor care coordination across care providers.
Adopting an approach based on population health management can help healthcare organizations make sense of all the data they have at their fingertips, and use that data to improve the health of the people in their communities.
Justin Lanning is senior vice president and managing director, Midas+, A Xerox Company.