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Managing Population Health Will Require Peak Performance From all of us

Written by: Mediware on Thursday, June 4, 2015 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab


Population health is a term that is widely used in healthcare, but not universally understood.

The concept of population health was introduced after the turn of the century when David Kindig and Greg Stoddart defined it as “the health outcome of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”1

Since then, we have come to appreciate the role health care providers must take to impact those outcomes. Accountability to assume responsibility for health outcomes must include the behaviors of the population.

Population health management is a proactive, patient-centric approach to health and healthcare that engages patients and providers in prevention, wellness, care coordination and care management with the goals of improving outcomes and reducing costs.

The nation’s healthcare strategy has been summarized by focus upon the triple aim to (1) make health care more accessible, safe and patient-centered; (2) address environmental, social and behavioral influences on health and health care; and (3) make care more affordable.

Achieving population health care goals is a mountain of challenge. Expectations are high, risk and rewards are unknown. The journey to the top has not been charted; providers may take multiple routes, some more direct, some more trepidatious, some less rewarding.

  • Each step upward is fueled by the knowledge and success of each patient’s health care outcome. Effectiveness and efficiency are demonstrated by performance and progress toward the goal.
  •  Special tools will be needed to collect, store and analyze data and provide continuous updates of current status.
  • Logging and recording the journey’s plan and progress will require frequent reassessment and modifications for course corrections and obstacles encountered.
  • Frequent monitoring and reference to the indicators of success will help achieve peak performance throughout the journey.
  • The documentation of patient care success and failure will create the map for others.

For the nation’s health care system to achieve this objective, all providers: individuals, institutions and integrated delivery systems, will face expectations requiring changes in practice and care delivery processes. It will be essential for providers to take ownership of the population health management role traditionally led by payers. This will be a new concern for all clinicians.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gaov/pmc/articles/PMC1447747/

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