Back to News & Ideas

Population Health is the Key to a More Efficient Healthcare System

November 21, 2019
Meredith Wagner

The U.S. healthcare system faces a significant challenge as the proportion of older patients continues to climb, as does the cost of healthcare.  This places an even greater burden on physicians that already feel overworked and are at risk of burnout.  Healthcare regulators and the Federal government recognize the challenge and are helping to drive greater adoption of connected health technologies with the hope of relieving the strain on the system.

 

 

But, while the benefits of telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and other connected health strategies may help enable more efficient healthcare delivery and better outcomes, a more proactive approach is needed to ensure the system is able to effectively handle demand.

 

 

Population Health Management leverages aggregated data across patient populations to deliver actionable insights for increasing individual and population health, identify optimal treatment programs for existing conditions and identify at-risk patients to enable early intervention.

 

 

Fundamentally, the goals of PHM programs are simple – move from a service-based to value-based healthcare model that will help:

 

 

  • Enable better health outcomes and quality of care
  • Identify optimal disease management and treatment programs
  • Identify proactive care opportunities for at-risk patients and population groups with similar characteristics
  • Close gaps in healthcare delivery by ensuring all physicians and providers have access to patient data to track and respond to their needs
  • Improve cost models to create a more cost-efficient healthcare system that reduces the financial burden on patients and providers.

 

 

The transformation of the healthcare system is being driven be advances in technology and changes in patient behavior.  Connected health services can make patient data collection and reporting easier and more accurate by automating much of the process.  Patients are part of a digital economy that is increasing the demand for connected health services in lieu of traditional models, especially if it affords them a more convenient and cost-effective path to the healthcare services they need.

 

 

Similarly, healthcare providers can enjoy efficiency and cost benefits from connected health solutions that enable them to treat more patients while spending less time on manual data entry, patient records, and other administrative activities that lead to burnout.  Population health programs have the potential to further reduce the burden on physicians by leveraging technology to increase care coordination capabilities and leveraging massive amounts of data to more accurately diagnose patients and recommend treatment.

 

 

Connected health solutions provide several components that help increase opportunities for successful population health programs:

 

 

Data

At the core of population health is the massive amounts of data that can be collected by connected health platforms and combined with other available data sources.  The more digital engagements – including RPM activations – the more data becomes available for aggregation.

 

Analytics

Data analytics makes use of all the collected data to help physicians understand patient conditions, responses to treatment programs and activities, and identify the treatments with the highest success probability for each case.  Analytics is also the key to uncovering health trends in population groups, which may help develop preventative plans and reduce illnesses and other conditions that would require office visits or hospitalization.  As artificial intelligence usage grows, it can further reduce the burden on physicians and other professionals by delivering faster insights and affording physicians more time with patients.

 

Patient Management

Based on data from connected health systems or analytics results, healthcare providers can leverage connected health solutions to communicate information to patients, automate scheduling based on test results or other data, or send prescription updates to pharmacies with minimal manual intervention.

 

Coordinated Care

Analytics results and patient data can be used to develop physician workflows across providers and with specialists for integrated care models.  This is particularly useful for patients with multiple chronic conditions, mental health concerns, or others who are geographically displaced from specialists. Connected health can make it easy for physicians to share patient information to increase coordinated care.

 

Physician Burnout

With new analytics capabilities to support decision-making, and automated data management and patient engagement, physicians can have a lower administrative workload and can spend more time treating patients.  The ability to help more patients can be a significant factor in physicians’ overall job satisfaction.

 

Patient Engagement

Connected devices, portals, and apps give patients an opportunity to become more engaged in their own health.  These same tools reduce the burden on physicians and other caregivers, reducing patients’ dependence on them and, instead, promoting greater awareness of their own conditions. Ultimately, creating opportunities for even more data that can be aggregated into healthcare data flows for analysis.

 

 

The transformation of healthcare from a reactive to proactive process isn’t an overnight event, but it is underway, and the use of connected health solutions is increasing, along with regulatory initiatives to drive adoption.  As use of these technologies continues to increase, population health initiatives will see increased success, providing value to healthcare providers and patients.

 

 

To find out more about how connected health solutions can help improve patient care and population health, connect with us here.