Population Health Management – Key Drivers

The common thread between the various definitions of Population Health Management is the focus on outcomes. Read more about this at https://www.healthcatalyst.com/population-health-outcomes-3-keys-to-drive-improvement 

Population Health Management is a very broad topic that covers several spectrums of health management. Some various definitions of Population Health Management are:

Pupulation Health Management

  • Population management is the ability to manage the health outcomes of a population of patients with a similar condition.
  • Population management is going at-risk with payers for the outcomes of a population of patients (also known as free-for-value or pay-for-performance)
  • Using Care management to improve outcomes for high-risk, high-cost patients
  • Engaging patients and communities to achieve better health outcomes

An effective and efficient population health management program requires fundamental changes to the way patient care management is handled and practiced. A proper analysis of population management aids the understanding of where a health system is and aids in the adoption of better and improved practice systems to enable health practitioners to figure out what is needed. Healthcare organizations that have learned and mastered these steps and possess these abilities and capabilities have the essential components for an effective population health management program.

With the understanding that population health management is the aggregation of patient data across multiple health information technology resources, it is very important to note that the analysis of that data into a single, actionable patient record influences the actions through which care providers can improve both clinical and financial outcomes.

Pupulation Health Management

How does population health management work? How can health practitioners and healthcare organizations apply these theoretical definitions into actual practice? These are the questions organizations like Health Catalyst constantly provide answers to. Typically, health organization uses different tools such as Business Intelligence (BI) analytical tools to apply population management. Dealing with big data is a top issue and without the right tools can be frustrating but when handled properly yield the best benefits.

I mention Big Data because population health management involves the aggregation of information from big data into understandable and easy to analyze information. A successful population management program will give real-time insights to health practitioners, clinicians, nurses, and administrators. These real-time insights will allow them to identify and address care gaps within the patient population. A well-developed care management program is the key to better outcomes and costs savings especially in populations with diseases that have the potential to spread rapidly or populations with chronic diseases.

While data may be used separately by different hospitals and health organizations, there are different data analysis tools used across the system. Many systems do not integrate information on administrative and logistical activities like billing, medical claims with other health-related information like health records, lab results, patient medical history, patient drug allergies etc.

Pupulation Health Management

A shortcoming like this affects the quality of patient care management. And Patient Care Management is a critical component of population health management. Think of population health management as Patient Care Management on a grander scale. Even though the objective of care management does vary among healthcare organizations, their general goal and underlying mission revolve around improving patient self-management, improving medication management and reducing the cost of care both for patients and for the health organization. At the end of the day, it all comes full circle. In order to have an effective and efficient population health management system, you have to have a working patient care management system and a health philosophy on its importance.

Some Key Benefits of Population Care Management are

  • It produces better health outcomes
  • It improves the effectiveness of Disease Management
  • It closes care gaps
  • It reduces costs for health providers

Population Care Management Systems

Pupulation Health Management

Management of any concept or organization can’t be fulfilled without a balance between different components that make up the whole. The same applies to the management of a population’s health. More accurately, it could be said that the delivery of healthcare within a given community or population is managed to more precisely help those patients located within. The balance is found in the focus from which the care is predicated.

In the healthcare industry, many different systems are functioning parts of a whole organization. These are divided into three high-level classifications:

  1. The Content System: evidence, knowledge, and evaluations
  2. The Deployment System: team structured, defined roles and implementation
  3. The Measurement System: priorities, calculations and data visualizations

In all truth, these systems have many overlapping characteristics within them, but there are defining aspects to each section. Within the Content System resides the more academic ideas but may be lacking in real-world usability. To have content, you must first collect and store information. In an industry as data-intensive as healthcare, storing that data isn’t as simple as having an open computer or even a good size server.

Pupulation Health Management

The amount of information being produced with basic facts, medical records, doctor’s notations, prescriptions, and images (x-rays, MRI, digital photos, etc.) would quickly eat through most basic data storage. Many healthcare organizations have turned to an Enterprise Data Warehouses (EDW) to not only store information, but to have a centralized platform from which that information can be accessed and analyzed. This opens the door for more data-driven decisions, ability to set realistic goals and to remove waste and overages within the organization.