Population Health Management is a term that has been bantered about the healthcare industry for the last few years, but is it an important concept for the layman to know? The answer is yes. Even if you are one of the few individuals who manage to stay healthy year-in and year-out, it will affect the way you receive health care and the way you pay for it.
Hi-tech Applications to Keep People Healthy
Simply put, population health management is a way of addressing the needs of a certain group of people by identifying and tracking the needs of a few representative individuals. If that seems as clear as a brown prescription vial let’s go into it a little deeper. Suppose we are thinking about the huge number of Baby Boomers that are nearing retirement age. By looking at the medical histories of some of them, it becomes apparent they are prone to high blood pressure. In addition, many are obese and have diabetes. This new concept is a way of looking at the data and addressing it with preventative programs and information given to the Boomer population about how they can avoid those issues, and working within the treatment facilities to deliver quality care in a cost-efficient manner. According to an article on the Advisory Board website, this produces better clinical outcomes too.
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What Does it Involve?
This is a high-tech field. Since the government passed the HITECH act in 2009, more medical facilities have been using electronic health records. That means that a Boomer patient who sees a chiropractor, a dentist and a primary care physician has three sets of electronic records. A doctor who treats the patient has no idea of what medication was given to him at the dentist, for example, or that the mouth pain he is having is possible from bad teeth. Under this concept, all the data would be stored at a central digital warehouse, along with insurance and other data, giving the caregiver a complete picture of his patient.
How is This Accomplished?
According to Symphony Care. com, it involves identifying the individuals who need “pro-active care” and treating their needs while addressing the issue on the broader population scale too. The first step is identifying the population. We chose Baby Boomers, but what ages does that comprise? Next, you look at the arising health needs and match them with the appropriate treatment teams and protocols. The care has to be coordinated between team members, including scheduling and equipment use, and a communication link must be established which all team members, including the patient, can access. Finally, someone must analyze the data to assess the effectiveness of the program.
The healthcare industry expects this concept to revolutionize the delivery and reimbursement for medical services. Instead of being paid a fee for patient contact, physicians and others will be reimbursed according to quality of care. That will take some getting used to. For the Boomers who receive care, however, it makes sense. It predicts incentives for insurance companies and employers to provide preventative care, which may keep them healthier longer, and makes the treatment of illness a safer and more cost-efficient process by connecting everyone involved into the same network. In layman’s terms, this is what Population Health Management is all about.