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Population Health Management

Patients & Providers Working Together

Population health management calls for the re-engineering of patient, provider engagement

Population health management is on everyone's radar. The global population health management market will reach $26 billion by 2018 with a CAGR of 26 percent, according to a 2014 report from Research and Markets.

But how will the healthcare industry apply the knowledge acquired in caring for individuals to entire populations of diabetics, asthmatics or COPD patients? More specifically, how will it leverage aggregated data to identify patterns and trends and transform care delivery?

Population health management will achieve its destiny only if the healthcare community - providers, payers, government and vendors - takes the following steps:

1. Make technology more flexible, accessible, interoperable and intuitive.

Population health management calls on patients, families and providers to pursue personal health goals by integrating technology into their daily lives, 24/7. By making technology more flexible, interoperable and intuitive, healthcare can drive technology acceptance and use among individuals, families and communities.

Providers will also benefit. Those who experience easy-to use technologies with highly graphical interfaces are more likely to partner with patients in collaborative care decision making and track and report the data and information essential to population health management.

Patients, families and providers want colorful, graphical displays of data on variables like height and weight, heart, rate, cholesterol, medications, temperature and blood pressure, glucose and type. Both patients and providers stand to benefit from remote patient monitoring devices that measure sleep patterns, respiration and pulse rates, and door openings and closings. Seniors, in particular, will benefit from contact, motion, bed and toilet sensors. Increasingly patients and providers will look for rapid, easy navigation to areas where they can confirm, update and share information and retrieve personalized content.

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2. Invest in incentives and rewards.

Once the healthcare industry removes the barriers that stymie patient action, it must develop strategies to reward patients - initially through unique healthcare insights and a highly satisfying user experience.

Providers and payers can easily reward behaviors such as keeping appointments or controlling risk factors like smoking, obesity or alcohol consumption. Options include accumulation and redemption of reward points, contests and competitions and public recognition programs.

Employers stand in the vanguard. A 2014 survey from Fidelity and the National Business Group on Health reveals that average wellness incentives will increase to almost $600 per employee, more than double the average incentive in 2009.

By rewarding patients who are taking ownership of their own health, those entities assuming the financial risk when things go wrong can share the lowered costs when things go right. This virtuous loop is the real way to lower costs and increase quality for all patients, while also acknowledging the important role patients themselves play in their own health.

3. Focus on the individual.

In the quest to improve population health, the healthcare industry must zero in on individual patients and their families. At the core of medicine and healthcare is the individual-each of whom is defined by unique physiology, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and values.

Patients and family members want control over who has access to their health information. They want the chance to update and share personal health information with providers and family members. And they're eager to experience customized content and alerts that tackle medication compliance and risky health behaviors.

Providers can no longer rely on generic, one-size fits all, population-level recommendations. Instead, they must mobilize technology and data to focus on the individual in ways they never thought possible. On the horizon is personalized healthcare, which embraces genomics and information that can predict a patient's disease risk or treatment response. The Cleveland Clinic, for example, points to biomarkers like lipoproteins that will likely predict the risk of heart disease or stroke.

As these individual records become more longitudinal and more varied we'll be able to use population level insights to drastically improve the detection and treatment of disease for individuals.

4. Unify data so patients and providers can access it in one central location.

The healthcare community must unify functionality so patients and providers can access health information in one central location - much like they depend on Google for search or Twitter and Facebook for social media.

Patients and providers want to plug into the devices they use daily, including fitness trackers like FitBit. Patients - including healthy patients with limited clinical data - want to view their personal health information in one place so they're able to easily interact with that data every day of the year.

5. Invest in personal health data capture.

In the years ahead, the healthcare community must simplify data capture through sensors and other technologies. Patients will no longer need to capture, store and transmit data. Instead, health data will emerge as one component of the total data flow that maps a patient's life.

Just as patients monitor their bank balance to ensure financial health, so they will soon be able to monitor their personal health data to safeguard physical and mental health. For example, the University of Missouri is pioneering the use of sensors to monitor the health of older adults through synchronization of home and hospital systems.

Looking Ahead

The healthcare industry can fulfill the mission of population health management if it continues to embrace standards and interoperability, listens to patient and provider needs and remains committed to full data liberation. By testing assumptions and engaging in the relentless pursuit of innovation, the healthcare community will ensure the health of populations and transform healthcare delivery.

Chris Bradley is CEO of Mana Health.

Population Health Management Archives

I see the influence I have had on your thought process. Ask before you re-use my content.

Charlene  NgamwajasatOctober 18, 2014


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