Population health refers to the combined health issues and care outcomes of a patient group. Population health management (PHM) is the aggregationof patient data into actionable reports. These insights allow clinicians to understand and improve care outcomes across a patient cohort.
To properly manage population health, healthcare leaders should have access to the most updated intelligence possible on their patients, including, but not limited to:
Diagnosis and procedure data
Social and environmental health determinants
Effective PHMcombines facility clinical, financial, and operational reporting to deliver patient care more efficiently and improve outcomes.
Why is population health management important?
By collecting patient data across a cohort—geography, therapy area, or other grouping—healthcare providers can proactively identify and address chronic illnesses and common health issues. This includes preventing and controlling the outbreak of epidemics, such as the flu or meningitis.
Population health management can also mean balancing patient healthcare access, making it more equitable across socioeconomic lines. The more information clinicians have about their patients, the easier it is to anticipate potential health issues and implement preventative care measures. Access to these insights also allows physicians to customize their approaches to patient care based on the more urgent needs of the surrounding community.
Accessible healthcare technology
Successful PHM technologies allow clinicians and administrators to glean real-time insights on their patients, so they can provide the most efficient and cost-effective care. At its most basic, PHM technology can includeelectronic health record (EHR) systems, which are currently used by nearly 83 percent of hospitals according to Definitive Healthcare’s technology insights. This technology can also include patient portals and check-in kiosks at care facilities.
Many providers are also leveraging remote monitoring devices to collect patient biometric information to keep track of treatment effectiveness. In addition, rather than asking patients to manually record and monitor their own symptoms, medical devices like blood pressure and glucose monitors can capture and send key metrics directly to clinician EHR systems.
Automated devices like these make it easier for patients to adhere to prescribed treatments and easily incorporate these new technologies into their current lifestyles—ensuring the devices are as effective as possible in delivering data and improved care.
Top healthcare information management systems by hospital installations
Number of Installations
3M Health Information Systems
Fig 1 Data from Definitive Healthcare’s Technology Insights Search (LOGIC), using the most recent available information, which varies by the reporting year of each hospital. Some vendors may have multiple software types implemented at the same hospital, leading to a higher volume of installations than active hospitals. Platform accessed January 20, 2020.
Effective PHM technology checklist
Not sure what you’re looking for when it comes to effective PHM technology? Start by examining whether the medical device is accessible to patients. Smartphone apps and smart watches can be easily integrated into a patient’s lifestyle, but this may be more difficult for older patients or patients who don’t use smart devices. Even forremote monitoring devices, patients need to have reliable access to Wi-Fi in order for their biometric data to be transferred to physicians.
Remote devices, smartphone apps, and other data collection tools should be interoperable with the EHR software used by a hospital or care provider. This reduces the chances of data loss or confusion and makes it easier for clinicians to effectively utilize patient information.
Effective population health management technologies:
Are easily accessible for patients
Collect patient data remotely and send it to clinicians (individually and in aggregate)
Are interoperable with a variety of platforms and software
Getting value from your patient data
Before you start collecting data from your patients, you should have a clear goal in mind. Collecting data without a purpose will most likely lead to an overwhelming volume of information with very few meaningful or actionable insights. By working toward a singular goal—like reduced readmissions or restricting patient leakage—you can ensure you’re gathering the intelligence most relevant for your care facility.
Alternatively, if you’ve already started a population health management initiative, you can focus on discovering gaps in your existing data. If you’re aiming to reduce excess readmissions, you may find insights on patient comorbidities useful in addressing complications.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alanna Moriarty is a healthcare industry writer and content strategist. As the Content Marketing Manager for Definitive Healthcare, she most enjoys connecting the dots between data and care delivery. ...