Healthcare C-Suite Sets Sights on Population Health Management

By Justin Lanning

Justin Lanning
“Population-based insights are critical as the healthcare system shifts to a value-based model.” – Justin Lanning, senior vice president and managing director, Midas+, A Xerox Company

Data, data everywhere, but not a drop of actionable insight to drink. With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” I point out that healthcare organizations are not having difficulty collecting data – it’s all around them. But the ability to use it in a meaningful way to improve the health of people within their communities is a much taller task.

We believe that a good place to start making sense of this data is to adopt an approach based on Population Health Management. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identifies four key determinants of a population’s health: genetics, medical care, lifestyle and health behaviors, and physical and social environment. Understanding the unique make-up of these factors in a community allows healthcare providers to identify at-risk populations. The goal is more timely and personalized clinical interventions that can reduce costs and improve care.

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What Do Healthcare Executives Want from Data?

We polled 35 C-level healthcare executives at the recent Midas+ Annual Symposium to get their perspective on population health management. They represented over 80,000 beds in more than 480 hospitals, and we found that they are optimistic about the progress their organizations can make, despite a number of challenges.

The executives polled unanimously agreed that population health management is necessary as the U.S. shifts to more value-based healthcare reimbursement and delivery models. More than 80 percent strongly agreed with this sentiment, while 19 percent said they “somewhat agree.” It makes sense – with providers compensated for successful health outcomes, it’s critical for them to focus on effective management of patient populations.

Visit our website to learn more about Midas+ and our data-driven, action-oriented approach to population health management.

Data That Informs Healthcare Strategy

With our acquisition of Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) last month, Xerox is better positioned than ever to help our clients implement population health strategies in a meaningful way. For example, HCI’s system allows communities around the country to follow a similar process to implement, and learn from, successful population health strategies like this one in San Francisco. A coalition of over 100 organizations in San Francisco analyzed regional data that identified emergency rooms that had high admission rates associated with alcohol abuse. The data informed the best placement of a “Sobering Center,” where people who are intoxicated are brought instead of a hospital emergency room. The Medical Respite and Sobering Center’s return on investment is over $9 million per year, and it improves delivery of care.

We’ll hear this type of success story more and more in the next few years. More than 65 percent of the executives polled believe their organizations will begin delivering a fully-scaled population health management program within five years, while 16 percent report their organizations are already doing so. Improving health outcomes was cited as the most important reason, followed by improving patient relationships, containing costs and increasing revenue opportunity.

As with any major shift in an industry, there are a number of barriers to successful implementation and adoption. Survey respondents indicated that the No. 1 challenge is data management and integration capabilities. By bringing HCI into the Midas+ Juvo™ Care Performance platform, we are able to help our clients overcome this challenge by providing insights, solutions and services leveraging data across 95 percent of the CDC’s key population health determinants.

Determinants of Population Health
With the acquisition of Healthy Communities Institute, Midas+, A Xerox Company, can provide insights, solutions and services leveraging data across 95 percent of population health determinants, as identified by the CDC.

A 3-Pronged Approach to Actionable Data

HCI’s three-pronged approach to population health includes:

  • Visualization dashboards so healthcare providers can view a wide range of socioeconomic data at the zip-code level, and offer easily digestible data and actionable recommendations.
  • Databases of evidence-based programs and policies already shown to improve a community’s health.
  • Evaluations and analysis to help clients understand the impact of their population health management efforts. According to Deryk Van Brunt, senior vice president and general manager, community health, Midas+, “Tracking and celebrating the success of population health programs energizes stakeholders and ensures continued resources for further improvements.”

Ultimately, Healthy Communities Institute will help us do much more than provide a wide range of data to hospitals and health systems. The technology will help us provide actionable insights – something that medical professionals (and ancient mariners) can appreciate.

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  1. Tim Boucheri June 15, 2015 - Reply

    ‘Big data’ that is collaboration of entire health care data is very useful for predicting and managing health care issues for future .

    • Justin Lanning June 16, 2015 - Reply

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Tim! I agree – collecting and organizing a variety of data can inform healthcare strategy and ultimately help providers improve the health of their populations. We are excited to be helping medical professionals in that effort.

      – Justin Lanning, senior vice president and managing director, Midas+, A Xerox Company

  2. John Lynn June 16, 2015 - Reply

    The use of socio-economic and behavioral data is going to be really interesting in healthcare. You only touched on the good side of this in your article. I imagine in future articles you’ll talk about the potential challenges. Will it cause doctors to discriminate against patients. Will the data cause awkward situations in the exam room because the data is gone? What about privacy?

    I’m excited for this new world of data, but it’s not without its challenges. We’ll have to navigate it carefully.

    • Justin Lanning June 18, 2015 - Reply

      Very good points, John. The future is exciting, while also filled with major responsibility which must be stewarded carefully. It will be very interesting to see how the patients drive the conversation on privacy. As patients/consumers demand more precise evaluations/diagnostics and more catered procedures and treatments, we can continue to build consumer trust as we gain their permission and participation with providers they choose to use their data to enable those personalized services. And on this journey we will have to continue to balance providing key and still much improved insights on patients both from de-identified and generic predictors for those who don’t share their information, while also providing even more precise insights for those who do share their information.

      To your other good point about discrimination, I believe that because most at-risk / value-based models assign specific populations to the participating providers, their ability to be selective toward who has the means to pay is significantly reduced. Rather, their focus is shifted to those who need specific interventions to help reduce unnecessary utilization and aligning their current or new resources to meet the specific needs of each patient.

      Like you, I too look forward to on-going dialogue on how we can work together to provide the most efficient and effective healthcare in the world.

  3. Loretta Oliver June 17, 2015 - Reply

    This was some very enlightened information and helpful in identifying what the Healthcare market is looking for.

  4. Von Doss June 22, 2015 - Reply

    Population Health management is probably the most important change in healthcare for the last 30 years. However I do agree with the sentiment that this will put the physicians in that awkward exam room with a non-compliant patient. Thinking what do I say that I haven’t said? The reason I love healthcare is because at the end of the day all we care about is the patient good, bad, or indifferent.

    • Justin Lanning June 23, 2015 - Reply

      Hi Von – thanks so much for reading and commenting with your thoughts. One key objective of population health management is to develop solutions that work for particular individuals within populations… not so much generic efforts to everyone within a population. For instance, the example I pointed to in the article involved reducing admission rates associated with alcohol abuse in the San Francisco area.

      I believe as highly capable and thoughtful professionals, physicians/clinicians will gain more and more access to the right insights and ultimately hone in on the right balance of how to engage with patients in various and very specific ways according to each individual patient’s risk. I believe with the right insights and right engagement options, choices and feedback loops that any awkwardness will fade quickly. The behavioral, social, and environmental health aspects are so key that, armed with the right insights for each patient, the physicians/clinicians will become (and many already have) very savvy at prescribing “life engagement and change” programs, rather than just medications and physical therapy.

      I am excited about the solutions that will be reached by working within parameters of specific issues and finding appropriate interventions that lead to better outcomes. I certainly agree with you: we’re all focused on helping the patient at the end of the day!

  5. Len July 1, 2015 - Reply

    Good & useful article, thanks.

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