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Black Book: Leading EHR Vendors Now Fully Investing in Population Health Management

June 8, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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While many technology systems were developed with fee-for-service reimbursement in mind, a changing paradigm signals the need for EHR vendors to tap into new, non-FFS tethered platforms for population health

Ninety percent of healthcare leaders said that future population health management (PHM) systems will essentially be projected to perform as next-generation patient accounting systems, according to a recent Black Book report.

During the first quarter of 2017, Black Book surveyed 140 chief information officers (CIOs), 159 chief financial officers (CFOs) and 448 hospital managers involved in planning and executing population health initiatives within the next 12 months. In an ideal world, these PHM systems will be able to identify a plethora of patient groups and predict where, when and how to best engage them. In addition, they should have the ability to coordinate care across the entire healthcare continuum, support care team collaboration and measure the activities, outcomes and overall performance of providers within the network, according to the Black Book researchers.

“Where the industry is on its journey, however, we see that progress remains nascent, but the activity and energy is high,” Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research, said in a statement. “Clearly, the best articulation of this energy is coming from the leading electronic medical record (EMR) suppliers, namely Epic Systems, Allscripts and Cerner, that have previously provided fee-for-service (FFS) platforms and are now fully investing in new, non-FFS tethered platforms to manage population health.”

Indeed, many tech systems were developed to track separate healthcare encounters in order to get paid in a fee-for-service reimbursement model, but the landscape is now changing, and those systems are struggling to accommodate the need to transition to a holistic understanding of their patients, with cost and utilization tracked at every point along the care continuum, according to Alan Hutchison, vice president of connect and population health at Epic Systems, and who was interviewed as part of this report.

Some EMR systems have handled managed care for years, and those that have deep experience with capitation and managed care will be better able to translate that knowledge into value-based initiatives, Brown added. "Systems like Epic that were developed from the start as a single, longitudinal patient record spanning inpatient, outpatient, post-acute and billing will have the advantage,” he said.

Optum, Philips and IBM are also fast developing solutions to gain a foothold in the market, per the report. "To see the leading EMR companies building from scratch and being considered by non-EMR buyers—such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), health plans and government agencies—speaks to the progress and momentum of these vendors," Brown said.

Black Book's survey reported expansion around techniques and methods available to aggregate data from a variety of sources, as consumers demand more access and higher security measures to protect their private medical information. “Clients are looking for enterprise-class, near real-time platforms that close the loop back into clinical and consumer workflows," said Ryan Hamilton, senior vice president of population health at Cerner. "They want unified platforms that can identify the various cohorts of an individual, predict where and when to engage, manage a personalized longitudinal plan for each person, match activities to the appropriate resources and empower consumers.

Black Book predicts another wave of consolidation similar to what the industry saw in the early 2000s, as organizations moved from best-of-breed to integrated platforms. "Single solutions will likely continue to merge, be acquired, or be usurped by integrated technologies within comprehensive platforms that are natively integrated at the point of care and accessible by patients and community-based organizations," Brown said.

Meanwhile, Black Book's Q2 2017 consultant surveys revealed a significant amount of energy in advisory services. Only 11 percent of providers reported engagement intentions for consultants on PHM vendor selections, as the reality is most have already contracted for population health, electronic data warehousing (EDW), care coordination and disease management solutions.

What’s more, Black Book forecasts a 177 percent leap in healthcare advisory engagements in the use of PHM and value-based consulting for services related to care management, analytics, business reporting, operational excellence and financial guidance.

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