Population Health Management is Transforming Healthcare

Population Health Management is Transforming Healthcare

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Thursday, August 29, 2019

The emergence of population health management is driving healthcare toward personalized and value-based care.

FREMONT, CA: Population health management has been driven by technology ever since the healthcare sector implemented electronic health records (EHRs) to digitize patient data. In the modern world, technology plays a crucial role in managing the health of patients suffering from chronic conditions.

The analysis of the patient data enables healthcare providers to track the patterns and trends, and their association with the diseases. Machine learning (ML) algorithms can be leveraged to process vast troves of data in short periods, drawing relevant insights to assist in the delivery of personalized care to the patients.

The inception of value-based care in the healthcare landscape has spurred more organizations to implement population health management programs, taking a proactive approach to delivering care. It has enabled them to go beyond traditional practices and provide personalized attention to patients, especially the ones with chronic conditions.

Population health management approach is making physicians more responsible for the health outcomes of their patients. However, primary care physicians might find it challenging to adapt to the change in care delivery. It requires considerable investment in technology and personnel, which is beyond the reach of smaller practices. Data analytics approach is also gaining traction as organizations seek to provide value-based care at lower costs.

Data Analytics

The EHR and claims data can be leveraged to assess the condition of patients and recommend them for intervention. Since the population health programs are tied to a series of metrics, the evaluation of the data will enable the providers to identify the gaps in care. Data analytics provides insights to physicians regarding the performance of their programs and informs their decisions in improving them.

Personalized Care

Medical tech providers are developing robust software solutions to track the trends of patient health, including social determinants, behavioral health, and other non-clinical drivers of health and disease. Digital technology and wearables are also leveraged to ensure the adherence of patients to the prescribed medications and providing appointment reminders. Several healthcare providers are adopting robust systems to deliver automated health-related alerts and reminders to multiple patients.

Patient Engagement

The incorporation of innovative communication technology in the healthcare sector has enabled organizations to enhance patient engagement. Solution providers are developing secure and seamless messaging and communication tools for remote interaction between patients and physicians, enhancing the experience for both parties. The emergence of telehealth systems has enabled long-distance communication, allowing mobile devices to access patient data and cloud computing. It has facilitated a seamless and cost-effective option for healthcare providers to store, manage, and organize patient health records.

Healthcare organizations choose their technology partners based on the kind of data they want to capture to enhance their health programs, and also on the functionalities offered by the solution providers. Small healthcare practices often possess a better bearing of what their patients need to resolve their conditions. However, when scaling their population health programs, they will have to reassess their capability and augment it accordingly.

Although several organizations possess the essential technology and resources to launch population health programs, they often lack the strategic edge to enhance their offerings and improve patient engagement. The success of population health management depends on the strategies of healthcare organizations in managing a more significant number of patients in the most efficient way.

However, even small practices are being driven to implement population health, not only due to demands of merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS). Even commercial insurers are giving more importance to health outcomes rather than patient volume. It has not only spurred providers to augment their approaches but also benefited payers in terms of cost.

The quick insights facilitated by the incorporation of data analytics have enabled physicians to reduce manual analysis and pay more attention to patient care. The data generated through population health management techniques enables healthcare providers to identify patients with chronic conditions and assist them.

Population health management also involves sending out reminders to patients regarding annual physicals, vaccines, and cancer screenings. The emphasis on preventative care is driving a change in the conventional approaches of healthcare, making healthcare providers take more responsibility for the health of their patients.

However, the success of population health management also depends on the patients, as healthcare providers can only do so much when it comes to maintaining healthy behaviors. At the end of the day, it is the patient’s control as physicians cannot force them to live healthily. Preventative care forms a basis for value-based care, as patient problems are deemed to get worse, not to mention expensive, without proper commitment to prevention.

Small practices often face challenges when implementing population health management programs. One of the problems faced by providers is the identification of patients with chronic conditions. In such cases, they can turn to the data contained in the EHR to identify patients with severe chronic conditions and manage their care.

When it comes to risk-based contracts, it becomes imperative for organizations to invest in robust technological resources to analyze the claims and turn the data into meaningful insights. After identification, organizations will also need clerical staff to deliver care to the patients. The adoption of more sophisticated software solutions will enable them to identify high-risk patients and provide them with specialized care. Population health management is driving healthcare toward total accountability, and healthcare organizations have no choice but to ride the wave of change.

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