Is a Population Health Management Approach Sustainable?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Beyond the undeniable imprint of big data on the field of population health management (PHM) and the emergence of primary care on the PHM team, the most ringing endorsement of population health management derived from the Healthcare Intelligence Network’s second annual PHM survey is the resounding belief by almost all respondents (92 percent of hospital/health systems, and 100 percent of health plans) that a population health management approach is sustainable.

One respondent went so far as to say, “Nothing comes close [to population health management] in terms of managing systemic healthcare costs.”

Still, compared to conventional care management, PHM is still in its infancy, despite the plethora of analytics harnessing healthcare data for PHM consumption. Many respondents are careful to bear in mind the individual patient behind the electronic health record or health risk assessment, balancing the use of risk stratification tools like predictive modeling with a hands-on approach.

Underscoring this, a half-dozen respondents pointed to specially trained case managers, human communication, and interdisciplinary conversations as their most successful PHM tools, along with a host of behavior change techniques employed in telephonic and face-to-face interventions: motivational interviewing, intrinsic coaching and patient activation.

While these approaches are gaining ground in terms of reducing avoidable utilization and healthcare costs, the survey indicated that engagement of patients in population health management remains a significant challenge for almost a third of 2014 respondents (although it is less a barrier now than two years ago, when almost half of respondents struggled with patient engagement).

Perhaps with more primary care physicians on the front lines of PHM, reluctant patients will become less of an issue. As one respondent noted, “For PHM to work, it requires both physician and patient engagement for a selected population. Being all things for all people is not sustainable.”

Source: 2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Population Health Management

2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Population Health Management Now in its second edition, this 50-page resource analyzes the responses of healthcare organizations to HIN’s second comprehensive industry survey on PHM trends administered in June 2014. It delivers the latest metrics and measures on current and planned PHM initiatives, providing actionable data on the most effective PHM tools and workflows, risk identification strategies, tools to boost health plan member and consumer engagement, modalities for program delivery, and much, much more.

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