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3 steps for IDNs to achieve population health management

by Jeff Plum
Taking proactive steps to prepare your Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) for population health management success now will benefit you in the long term.

As a healthcare leader in an HIE, ACO or other integrated delivery network, you’re likely aware of the growing importance of “population health management” to succeed in today’s healthcare world.

The “managed care” models of the 1980s and ‘90s were arguably more about cutting costs and less about identifying the most appropriate treatments for the general patient population. However, today’s population health management models are a bit different. They call on providers to identify specific chronic-care patient populations and select the most effective treatments and actions they can undertake to treat these patients and prevent the acute episodes that lead to unnecessary readmissions and other more costly measures.

Carrying out this mission often requires enormous amounts of data, especially in an IDN that may be made up of dozens of individual small and large physician group practices, hospitals and other ancillary providers like imaging practices and physical therapy clinics.

The importance of being able to safely and securely capture, transform and manage such volumes of data simply cannot be overstated.

Prepare for population health management: cut, draft, partner

That said, few expected population health management to be an overnight success. Population health management is still in the early innings, and it continues to show great promise. Here are some things your IDN can be doing now to get off the bench and into the game.

  • Cut ineffective players. Truly effective population health management often centers on efficiently collecting, analyzing, sharing and taking action on all types of clinical and billing data. The right tools and technology can help you achieve these goals. Assess every aspect of your technological infrastructure, including your electronic health records (EHRs), billing and other systems, with an eye toward eliminating aging and antiquated “silos” of information.
  • Draft new players. Replace your old tools and technology with equipment that communicates seamlessly with each other and fills in many of the gaps that occur between different EHR, ordering, laboratory and radiology systems.New tools are coming online to help overcome these hurdles and equip providers to share the right clinical information, at the right time, to support accurate patient care decisions right when they need to be made.
  • Partner with the right coaches. The right people can help you understand the wide variety of systems, help you identify and implement the necessary standards of security and privacy, and help you develop governance models where data access is not being governed appropriately.

The days of “managed healthcare”—when emphasis was placed almost solely on costs without regard to medical necessity—are long gone. Today, it can help IDNs like yours to identify specific populations of patients, such as those with diabetes or congestive heart failure, and then select the most effective, specific actions to prevent the acute episodes that lead to costly additional care, such as hospitalization or emergency room visits.

Achieve your population health management goals

Having a solid game plan in place is key.
Jeff Plum
Jeff Plum, Business Process Consultant for Ricoh USA, Inc., is highly proficient in enhancing document and information flow and accessibility with an intended goal of improving patient care, the physician experience and operational efficiencies. Plum has been with Ricoh for more than 34 years, with more than 30 years of that focused on the Healthcare space. Plum has an extensive background in Patient Access, Medical Records, Physician Referrals, Pharmacy, Lab and overall documentation content and workflow in both the acute care and ambulatory care space.