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Health Care’s Transition to Value-Based, Patient-Centered Care Continues Through Population Health

February 20, 2017

Population health management is a key factor as health care executives work to control costs, and improve health care quality and outcomes.

A new study, The State of Population Health: Second Annual Numerof Survey Report, by Numerof & Associates in collaboration with David Nash, the Dean of Jefferson College of Population Health, looks at the evolution of population health management in the United States.

Population health is about managing the health of a defined population by providing the right intervention for a specific patient at the least costly point in the care process. For example, by helping people with diabetes or heart disease better manage their condition, we eliminate costly and unnecessary emergency department visits. The goals of population health include:

  • Enhancing health wellness––Proper medication, exercise, nutrition, housing, safety
  • Eliminating disparities in care––differences in health and health care between population groups due to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, location, gender, disability, and sexual orientation
  • Increasing accountability and transparency

When population health management is done correctly, there is less need for hospitalizations, health care costs are lower, and health care replaces sick care.

Through the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has implemented many programs that have changed the way providers get paid, and influenced other payment models outside of Medicare. Linking hospital and other provider payments to population health initiatives—and resulting outcomes—is an effective approach toward improving the entire health care system.

Highlights of the Numerof & Associates study include:

  • 95 percent of providers rated population health as at least “moderately” important to their organization’s future success
  • 43 percent rated population health efforts as “critically” important to success
  • 74 percent said their organization has a dedicated population health department/division

Despite growing popularity with alternative payment models, less than ten percent of current respondents’ revenues are tied to risk-based payments.

A report from the American Hospital Association’s Committee on Research also looks at the ways that hospitals are improving their community outreach. The report, Next Generation of Community Health, highlights ways that hospitals are taking the lead to ensure better health and better health outcomes through public health activities, new collaborations, and a more comprehensive approach to community wellness.

Population health management requires strong leadership and significant changes in culture, training, staffing, and care coordination. Hospitals need reliable data and benchmarks, a network of outside partnerships, and the ability to invest money and other resources up front to make the transition.

HAP continues to work with hospitals across the state through regional initiatives to assist members with identifying the best approaches to population health through community health needs assessments, and the ongoing development of meaningful partnerships.

For more information about HAP’s population health efforts, contact Robert Shipp, III, HAP’s vice president, population health strategies.

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