In the United States, a huge transformation is underway as healthcare providers make a shift to more value-based models of healthcare. The traditional fee-for-service business model has proven to be expensive for patients as well as providers, with little to show for it when compared to spending in other nations. With this shift, population health strategic management needs to become a priority to aid in developing a healthcare model that provides patients with value while reducing costs.
What is Population Health Strategic Management?
Population health management is focused on improving patient health outcomes based on groups of individuals. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, the founder of the Yale Department of Public Health, put it best when he defined population health management as “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private communities, and individuals.”
The individuals in a defined group, or population, can be sorted by anything from groups of individuals with a specific disease or health condition to even those in a certain geographic area. When population health strategic management is put into play, data analysis is used to seek methods to improve patient outcomes while still focusing on controlling overall costs.
The information that’s gathered from data analysis can aid in developing patient treatments for specific groups, as well as individual patients. Filling in patient care gaps, providing value-based care, and using the appropriate data to drive these actions is key to population health strategic management.
Why is Population Health Management Important?
The U.S. spends a significantly higher percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare than any other high-income nation, coming in at about 50% more than the second placeholder, France. However, though the U.S. is number one in spending, there isn’t a positive effect on the health of the population to show from it. In fact, the U.S. has a lower life expectancy at birth and worse health outcomes than any other nation in the 2015 study by the Commonwealth Fund.
As healthcare in the United States begins to move away from the traditional fee-for-service model to one that prioritizes value, population health management comes into play. With this shift, the focus can be on prolonging life, preventing disease, and promoting optimal health, something that healthcare should have been doing all along but hasn’t succeeded in. As the population of people who struggle with chronic disease continues to skyrocket, putting a focused effort in improving the clinical outcomes of those groups should be a priority, as well as the prevention of these diseases in those who are at risk for developing a chronic disease in their lifetimes.
Strategies for Success
To make this shift, there has to be a considerable priority put on population health strategic management. With a growing population riddled with chronic disease, collecting the necessary data and using it to determine how to make actionable, evidence-based decisions is crucial. This will allow healthcare providers to decide how to allocate their resources when they have a better, statistical, view of trends, risk, and outcomes of chronic disease.
Capable Technology and Data
The first step is to ensure that healthcare organizations have the right technology to collect and analyze patient data. This data is essential to success in population health management as it will provide the insight needed to determine solutions to improve the health outcomes of groups and individuals they seek to serve.
Prioritization of Mental and Behavioral Health
As stated by John Chomeau, chief population health officer at Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, “one of the large missing pieces of population health…is the integration of behavioral and mental health.” Seeking the data for different groups to lead to programs that will eliminate, or at least reduce, stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse among populations will improve the mental and behavioral health outcomes and often enhance physiological health outcomes well.
Utilization of Experts
It’s clear that this balance or improved outcomes and controlling costs presents a bit of a challenge. Enlisting experts such as public health experts can aid in the development of your organization’s population health management strategies.
Similarly, at PDV Health Consulting we have the experts on staff to help you. Our consultants have deep industry knowledge and experience to help you develop a successful strategy aimed at improving your organizational systems and policies that affect health care quality, access, and outcomes, ultimately improving the health of an entire population.
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