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Population health: Partner with Uber?

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Uber driver on his way to customer.

Nick van Terheyden, M.D.,  chief medical officer of Dell Healthcare Services, writes in Becker’s Hospital Review that population health must, of course, focus on primary care. But his specific suggestions include:

On data analysis, he cites:

“A western Massachusetts integrated health system includes in their risk algorithms factors such as distance from a patient’s home to a primary-care provider and availability of transportation and family support. Their thinking is that if you live too far from a clinic or don’t have transportation or family support, you are less likely to get regular care.”

“This is just one example of the kind of challenges we face in population health. It’s going to be as much about social support as it is about medical intervention. Income, location, health literacy, family support and a dozen other factors will have far more power over outcomes than anything that happens in the exam room.”

“….I wrote about high-value primary-care providers, those who got stellar outcomes with only about half the per-capita healthcare expense as other practices. These primary-care teams (and they are teams, not just physicians) exhibit significant cultural differences from other practices, starting with a laser-like focus on patient needs that go beyond diagnoses and medications. When they invest in technology, they choose carefully….”

“Notably, all of these practices make sure their physicians have mobile access to the electronic health records of their patients. That means a physician on call will have all the information needed to help a patient and to make good care decisions. ”

“Physicians  {should} take their own after-hours calls most of the time, making use of mobile access to the EHR to ensure all knowledge of each patient’s condition is available for decision-making.”

“Transportation is also a barrier for many patients, and some healthcare systems are partnering with Uber to get patients to checkups. While the cost may not always be covered I’m willing to bet the data will quickly show the payoff from this will justify the expense of providing the transportation.”

“But telehealth, remote monitoring and even free rides with Uber won’t make a lasting difference unless they are part of a culture that cares more about patient convenience than provider convenience.”

To read Dr. van Terheyden’s entire essay, please hit this link


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