The Popularity of Population Health

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/adamr

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/adamr

Population health and population health management are certainly buzzwords right now in the healthcare industry. There are, in fact, numerous blogs dedicated to the topic of population health. Population health is about treating a population of people in the most effective and cost-efficient way. When one refers to population health, the actual population of people they’re talking about can vary widely. It could be as small as a neighborhood of people ranging up to a whole country, or people from one socioeconomic class to another, people of a certain age, anything!

Population health is an especially hot topic right now because of the new digitization of the industry that is currently happening with technology like electronic health records (EHR) and readmissions reduction programs. While companies are trying to get on board with digital health and technology within their healthcare organizations, they also want to become more efficient, drive costs down and serve their clientele better. Therefore, even though the origin of the term population health didn’t originate to describe this technology area in healthcare, it fits in with it perfectly where the industry is and where it is going.

Healthcare organizations are undergoing this technology advance in their industry to be more efficient, and to improve the care and access they are giving to their patients. Maybe they can even use these new tools to not only serve their patients better, but to serve new patients in ways not currently known or available. Upgrading the technology already implemented and incorporating population health management at the same time just makes sense.

There are many ways to go about incorporating population health management into a healthcare practice. It doesn’t necessarily need to be all technical; however, if a hospital is in the process of moving to a more digital practice, why not take this time to change everything at once? Improving both the digital practices and population health management systems at the same time would serve the organization greatly. It wouldn’t be killing two birds with one stone but at least more results would come out of the chaos of incorporating EHRs and new data systems into the company.

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/Kittisak

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/Kittisak

Health Catalyst offers more insight into population health management solutions. They explain three systems that are necessary for effective population health management. Does your healthcare organization have these systems in place, or plan to get them in place? Incorporating effective population health management into your practice is as important as incorporating technology into your practice. It will help everyone be more efficient and serve their clients better, while saving costs.

Impact of “Single Source” Data

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/cooldesign

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/cooldesign

Marketing, media and businesses are being forced more and more to live on a tighter budget and to prove their worthwhileness as part of continuing. This has forced anyone working the books to demonstrate the correlation between things like advertising and sales. But with a growing market in just about every industry and the reliance upon verifiable data, experts have been forced to move from educated guesses to concrete proof, which is much easier said than done. One of the biggest obstacles is that stored data isn’t always located at one site, sometime due to the shear amount of data being gathered. This is a huge dilemma especially within an industry as large as healthcare.

The fact that each of us as some point becomes a patient isn’t a bad thing; many of us seek out our doctor for yearly physicals or try to stay on top of illnesses. As we do this, we are adding to the vast amount of data being created. All this data cannot simply be stored on a general server or a number of siloed locations because it serves very little purpose, doesn’t necessarily fit on traditional databases, and provides no actionable information when spread out. The answer is found in enterprise data warehousing (EDW) where data is stored and available in a single place. This allows for analyzing and making data-driven decisions.

For all those that have had to write reports, conduct research or seek out detailed information in the time before there was Internet understand that many times all the information you were searching out was not housed at one scene like a library. The same is true when moving from individual databases, possibly at each office or location, and combining to create a single-source, single location data source. With everything from medical history to billing and insurance in one area, the ability to find “reliable and repeatable” data is possible.

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/hyenareality

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/hyenareality

Especially within an industry that is so vast and complex, being confident with the information you are receiving, along with the abilities of timeliness and accuracy, allow you to make better decisions, make fact-based decisions, avoid prolonged conclusions and even predict necessities within the organization. This exact strategy has been implemented by Crystal Run Healthcare of New York. In order to be more successful, to improve patient care, cut costs, and travel down a more evidence-based route, they have taken the steps to implement things like the EDW, population health management and single-source data system. Crystal Run is just one of many accountable care organizations (ACOs) that is moving as far away from educated guesses and toward value-based care.

In the fast-paced environment we all live in, and with the ability to change old ways of doing business, we have no excuse to not increase how businesses are run. Exchanging the piecemeal way of storing and retrieving data is only one step, but is one that improves that way information is handles and the accuracy in which data is now presented. In an industry that depend so highly upon accuracy and timeliness, healthcare has seen and will continue to see growth that can only be found within a single-source data model.