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Premier Survey: Alternative Payment Models Pushing Orgs Towards Pop Health Strategies

April 18, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The healthcare industry’s movement to alternative payment models has health systems exploring new and innovative approaches to system-wide care delivery, according to a new survey from Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier, Inc.

C-suite respondents to the most recent survey, Premier’s spring 2016 Economic Outlook, which was conducted online, represent 82 health system executives across the U.S. Nearly half of survey respondents, primarily health system CEOs, chief financial officers and chief operating officers, believe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and population health management are having the biggest impact on their organization’s ability to deliver care.

“The ACA unleashed a number of alternative payment policies that incent providers to move toward accountability for the health of a defined population,” Michael J. Alkire, chief operating officer at Premier, said in a statement. “As healthcare continues to transition from an acute-care hospital focus toward an integrated system of providers, the creation of high-value post-acute care networks is essential for success within alternative payment models, such as bundled payment programs and accountable care organizations (ACOs).”

Expanding and integrating high-value post-acute care networks is an important step in the population health transition, cited by 95 percent of executives as a key area of focus over the next three years. But 94 percent of respondents believe creating these networks is the greatest challenge their systems will face over the same timeframe.

What’s more, health information technology (IT) has consistently been the area where respondents projected significant capital investments over the last five years. When asked to rank areas of high capital spend, 84 percent of respondents chose health IT.

Indeed, having interoperable data across the entire continuum of care, including employed and affiliated physician networks, is critical for providers to seamlessly manage population health. While 68 percent of executives say their organizations are successfully accessing ambulatory data from employed physician networks, just 38 percent feel they’re successfully accessing data from affiliated or non-employed physician networks.

“It’s one thing for providers in the same organization using the same systems to successfully share data; integrating data across disparate systems is something else altogether,” added Alkire. “Many affiliated practices lack the proper incentives to invest in high-cost data sharing agreements and interoperable interfaces. We urgently need public policies that require health IT interoperability standards so that providers can access data from any system.”

Additionally, shifting payment policies also have providers exploring where, how and with whom to partner and interact to enhance population health. For example, many health systems are recognizing the value of a retail approach, with 66 percent projecting their organization will own or operate its own retail pharmacy in the next three years, up from 54 percent in fall 2015, according to the survey.

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