“Waiting” (encaustic), by Nancy Whitcomb
Medical Economics reports that a panel of healthcare experts agreed that “Population health management holds great potential for improving health outcomes and lowering costs, but significant obstacles still need to be overcome before the concept is implemented.”
The panel of healthcare experts was convened by Midas+, a healthcare-products and consulting subsidiary of Xerox, in a recent Google hangout videoconference.
“Virtually all of 35 C-level hospital executives surveyed at that event either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed that population-health management is a necessity because the U.S. is shifting to more value-based healthcare reimbursement and delivery models.”
Translation: Policymakers hope that the astronomical cost of U.S. healthcare compared to the rest of the world can finally be brought under control.
“Population health management is important because we’re spending too much on healthcare and not getting good outcomes,” said Bernadette Keefe, M.D., a social media in healthcare & medicine consultant. But the panel heard concerns that physicians need to much better understand patients’ lives so as to deliver the best treatment.
An example of approaches discussed by the panel:
“Deryk Van Brunt, senior vice president and general manager for community health for Midas+ cited an example from San Francisco where population health data has had a significant impact. City officials there saw that many hospital emergency department admissions were among homeless individuals with alcohol abuse issues. The officials were able to use admissions data to identify specific neighborhoods from which many of those admitted were coming from.
“The city responded by establishing a ‘medical respite and sobering center,’ to which victims of alcohol abuse could be taken instead of hospital EDs, at far less a cost per-patient. ‘It has been a 10 to one return on investment and people are getting better served on discharge because it has caseworkers to help them with the broader set of issues having to do with homelessness.
“’This is an example of looking broadly at the community and instigating top-down, systemic change.”’
“Janice McCallum, managing director of the consulting firm Health Content Advisors, noted that physician reluctance to share information with patients poses another obstacle to population-health management. “Evidence has shown that sharing information leads to better self-care and outcomes. But there’s still a lot of reluctance to give information to patients out of fear they won’t understand it.”