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Survey: Population Health Plans in Place, but Vendor-Provided Solutions Still Immature

December 16, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Population health initiatives in healthcare are gaining momentum, but the adoption of vendor-provided population health solutions are still in the early stages, according to a December brief on population health from the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

As the emphasis on the change in delivery of care escalates from volume to value-based care, population health management initiatives are becoming more prevalent across healthcare. However, many organizations are addressing their initial population health needs without a population health vendor-provided IT solution, according to the brief, which included insight from nearly 200 healthcare executives.

Overall, just over 67 percent of respondents currently have population health initiatives in place.  A breakdown of respondents by bed size indicated that over 80 percent of organizations with more than 100 beds currently employ a wide range of initiatives focused on population health management. 

Certainly, organizations across the industry, regardless of size, have begun to put into place programs focused on bettering the health of their population. These areas include chronic disease management, wellness and preventive health, clinically integrated network models (CIN) and patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model.  Most organizations have focused their efforts on chronic disease management (83 percent of respondents with initiatives in place) and wellness/preventive health (82 percent of respondents with initiatives in place.)  Surprisingly, very few indicated the use of a dedicated vendor solution to help address their population health needs; overall, 25 percent of organizations with initiatives in place currently use a vendor-provided population health solution, the research revealed.

Nonetheless, there are a number of different areas where vendor provided solutions can be used to help organizations with their population health initiatives. The top areas, as indicated by organizations, were business intelligence/analytics/reporting, data warehouse/aggregation and a patient dashboard or scorecard. 

The survey also asked respondents about organizational use of consultants to help with population health, with opinion in this area being mixed.  Nearly 23 percent of respondents with initiatives in place either use a consultant or are considering one.  However, a majority of organizations (nearly 60 percent), indicated they do not use a consultant for any of their population health initiatives.  Consultants’ areas of focus are also mixed, as some are being used to create a comprehensive program roadmap, operational goals and metrics, while others are focusing on accountable care and clinically integrated network development. 

More than half of those organizations without current initiatives plan to employ initiatives or programs in the future, with primary focus being on chronic disease management and wellness/preventive health.  However, there is a high level of uncertainty around using a vendor solution to meet their future population health needs, the research found.

For what it’s worth, a recent report from Boulder-Colo.-based market intelligence company Tractica predicted that the global population health management software and services market is expected to double in size and reach $31.9 billion by 2020.

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