Population health management is a strategy aimed at improving the health of segmented populations and reducing care costs. PHM requires in-depth data analyses to identify trends across a targeted group and effective outreach tactics that leverage these populations with optimal health information at the right time, in order to improve care outcomes.
Many healthcare organizations aim to maintain the upward trajectory of population health initiatives by furthering current programs and reaching new patient populations. In a report detailing healthcare executives’ goals for 2018, 95 percent ranked population health between “moderately” and “critically” important for the future success of their organization.
In this post, we’ll dive into five population health management trends and discuss how healthcare organizations can leverage them.
1. Data Collection with Wearable Health Technology
In the last few years, the popularity of wearable technology has skyrocketed. The wearables market has doubled since 2015 and exceeded $4 billion in 2017. Healthcare organizations have already begun to take advantage of the data wearable technology can provide, and this trend will continue to gain traction.
Wearable technology can track health metrics such as heart rate, activity level, and sleep patterns. This type of information is incredibly valuable to healthcare organizations, because it helps them understand the current health status of patients who have opted-into this data sharing.
Health systems can then use an HCRM platform to collect, organize, and analyze these data, appending to existing data, and derive consumer insights that can be used to inform population health marketing campaigns. Such campaigns are effective drivers of patient engagement—and therefore improved health outcomes—as their level of personalization appeals to consumers and encourages them to further their relationship with their provider.
In addition to guiding marketing efforts, analyzing the data from wearable technology can be leveraged on the clinical side. In one use case, Cedars Sinai found that data from cancer patients’ Fitbits could help them assess the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment. In a test of 30 adult cancer patients, Dr. Arvind Shinde monitored metrics like patient heart rates and miles walked during chemotherapy treatments, and used this data to correlate patient activity levels with outcomes from cancer treatments.
With data from wearable technology, health systems have the opportunity to improve overall population health outcomes, treatment success rates, and readmission numbers.
2. Improvement of Vaccine Rates
Vaccinations are the cornerstone of population health efforts. However, recent CDC studies show immunization rates of certain infectious diseases have declined – 2017 flu vaccination coverage among adults was down 4 percent from 2016.
One primary population health goal will be raising vaccination rates for diseases that have seen declines. Those choosing not to receive vaccinations are considered at-risk populations, so healthcare organizations need to properly identify, target, and connect with such populations. Leveraging an HCRM, health organization identify vulnerable populations, such as seniors, zero in on those that have not been vaccinated, and develop a targeted list for outreach efforts.
Health and wellness digital marketing campaigns can complement targeted efforts and serve to remind patients of the importance of vaccines and encourage them to schedule a clinical appointment.
3. Overhaul of Opioid Prescribing Practices
The opioid crisis resulted in overdose deaths of 64,000 Americans in 2016 and remains a serious issue facing the U.S. and the healthcare industry. More and more providers will increase their work to curb the spread of Fentanyl, heroin, prescription opioids, and synthetic drug abuse.
According to PwC, half of provider executives will focus on altering their prescribing practices for these drugs in an effort to reduce the number of patients who develop dependence through misuse of legally provided medications. Also, expect to see healthcare organizations work with payers, public health officials, pharmacies, community organizations, and first responders to take a more proactive approach to reducing opioid abuse.
4. Partnerships with Community Organizations
Social determinants, or socioeconomics, play an important role in population health outcomes; food and housing security, transportation access, education, and employment all contribute to a patient’s ability to make healthy decisions and maintain wellness. To improve the overall health of patients of low socioeconomic statuses, healthcare organizations must appeal to these patients in meaningful ways. An effective way to achieve this objective is to work closely with community organizations that service these populations.
Community organizations have a deep understanding of where support is needed, and through partnerships health organizations can identify and direct resources toward priority issues facing these populations. Finding ways to integrate partner data into HCRM could help inform outreach efforts for population health initiatives. In sharing a common goal and aligning efforts, both organizations can boost visibility within in the community.
5. Digital Security of IoT and AI
With the Internet of Things (IoT), health systems can access and analyze new patient datasets from medical devices, apps, wearables, home monitors, and more. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and applied analytics help healthcare organizations with administrative and marketing tasks, automating outreach by accessing patient data. While these technologies improve health outcomes and save health systems time and money, they also increase vulnerability to cybersecurity breaches.
In fact, a recent Accenture study found privacy concerns is one of the top barriers to adopting IoT in healthcare. Health systems should prioritize data privacy and create detailed cybersecurity plans and defense measures to combat IoT and AI-related security breaches. By keeping patient data safe, healthcare organizations ensure that their population health initiatives are protected and successful.
In 2018, healthcare organizations need to prioritize customers and innovation to set themselves up for population health success. The most effective organizations will leverage technology, like HCRM and wearables, to get to know their customers better and let those insights guide their initiatives. In a changing healthcare landscape, data-driven organizations are going to be able to identify needs within the community and execute more efficient strategies in support of population health.