Population health management requires better it tools
Today's electronic health records don't include enough information or interoperability to enable population health management, according to Institute for Health Technology Transformation report.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Population health management requires better it tools
Population Health Management Requires Better IT ToolsAs the healthcare industry places more emphasis on populationhealth management (PHM)--the approach to health that looksbeyond the individual and identifies groups that need specifictypes of care—providers need to make a lot of fundamentalchanges. They need to rework their technologyinfrastructure, capture and manage more patient-related data, andimprove clinical workflow automation. So says a new study fromthe Institute for Health Technology Transformation.Population Health Management, A Roadmap for Provider-BasedAutomation in a New Era of Healthcare suggests that PHM is thekey to succeeding in patient-centered medical homes andAccountable Care Organizations. Both types of organizations linkreimbursements to quality metrics and reductions in the cost ofcare for an assigned group of patients.
The report cites a variety of technology tools needed to keeppopulations healthy and minimize the need for expensiveinterventions such as emergency department visits andhospitalizations. Those tools include electronic health records(EHRs), telehealth platforms, electronic registries, datamanagement software, and analytics systems. Providers can useEHRs and automation tools in particular to identify and stratifypatients, identify care gaps, measure outcomes, and encouragepatients to assume more responsibility for their health, said thereport.
Unfortunately, the tools organizations currently use arent up tothe task, the report concludes. Current tools dont have the abilityto store, manage, and distribute comprehensive, timely andrelevant information to the degree needed for PHM. For example,EHRs often dont contain the wealth of information availableabout the care that patients have received outside an organization,and they arent designed for interoperability. Likewise, EHRsusually lack the ability to provide real-time alerts for preventiveand chronic care, and do not generate quality and populationreporting. Therefore, todays EHRs are not designed to effectivelyadvance PHM, say the reports authors. Providers also mustdevelop electronic registries with population-wide databases thatarent limited to patients with specific diseases.
The report, which was prepared in consultation with a broad rangeof industry experts, notes that as patient data populates ITsystems, managing the data poses another set of difficulties. "Datamanagement for PHM purposes is also challenging because eachprovider and health plan has a different system for patientidentification and provider attribution," it states. "CommunityHIEs should use master identification numbers for patients andproviders. EHRs and other healthcare applications should includefields for linking data across data sets and matching patients totheir primary care providers."
The reports findings underscore the reality that mostorganizations are not yet ready for population health management,Waco Hoover, CEO of the Institute for Health TechnologyTransformation, said in an interview with InformationWeekHealthcare. "When you talk about population health managementyoure talking about interventions, youre talking about stratifyinga patient population and targeting those patients who are at mostrisk today but also next year, and then youre talking about havinga system in place to take preventative action.“Hoover said health organizations need to close the information gapso that physicians can use technology to positively affect patientoutcomes. He also said PHM will require patients to do a better jobof monitoring their own health.
"Given potential healthcare reform and efforts to increase qualityand efficiency of care in the setting of persistent fiscal limitations,the importance of leveraging information technology and focusingon population health management has become a top priority formany health care institutions," Andy Steele, director of MedicalInformatics at Denver Health, and a coauthor of the report, said ina statement.The developers behind Orra Health concur with the stated trendand believe that improvements are just a function of time and thefuture is bright if certain interoperability leakages are plugged.