The population health program is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals. It includes distribution of their outcomes within the group. These groups of populations are not confined to particular nations or communities, but can also be other groups such as employees, ethnic groups, disabled persons, prisoners, or any other defined group. Population health is not just overall health of population, but it also includes the distribution of health. The health outcomes of such groups are of relevance in both, the public and private sectors.
There are many factors or determinants such as medical care systems, the social environment, genetics, individual behavior. These determinants have a biological impact on individual and population health outcomes. Population health is critiqued as being a broad subject that includes everything, but actually there is a difference between population health and public health:
The public health works on tracking disease outbreaks, prevent injuries and shed light on why do people suffer from poor health than others. There are many educational programs that promote smoke-free environment, risks of alcohol and tobacco and spreading word about ways to stay healthy and giving science-based solutions to the problems. Some of the examples of public health are:
- Restaurant inspectors
- Public health providers
- Community planners
- Health educators
- Occupational health and safety professionals
- Public policy makers
- Scientists and researchers
The people in this field assure that the conditions in which people are living is healthy. For instance, timely vaccination given to children and adults to prevent the spread of disease. Public health works to track disease outbreaks, preventing injuries and shed light on nutrition programs ensuring kids having access to healthy food.
However, population health is not just overall health, but it includes the distribution of health. It manages the health outcomes of a population of patients with similar conditions. Population health uses the care management to improve outcomes for high-risk patients and it engages patients and communities to achieve better health outcomes.
The population health’s main focus is outcomes. These outcomes can be of different types:
- Quality outcomes – means success in treating the patient.
- Experience outcomes – it is the patient’s perception of the care or what patient experience during the care.
- Cost outcomes – it applies when there is reduction in length of stay.
The main focus is how to improve outcomes. Many providers equate population health management with technology which promotes greater collaboration between medical, public health, and social service institutions. This approach spread across domains of behavioral risk, social and economic circumstances, environmental exposures and medical care. The effects of these determinants are exposure to environmental irritants, availability of healthy foods, safe housing etc. As there are lot of diverse population and fragmentation of services within urban settings, practices do face challenges. Some of the challenges are:
- Racial and ethnic diversity within urban populations
- Groups vary in regards to exposure, behaviors and values
- Communities may not conform to geographic boundaries
- There might be less interventions that are transferable when it comes to chronic care model
How to overcome these challenges?
The improvement in population health begins with establishing practice with proper analytics and adapting certain systems, as not all outcomes are created equally. One of the easiest way is to, improve opportunity identification. This means, must recognize savings from reducing variation between providers. Can also encourage providers to make in-network referrals quicker.
Secondly, the practice can reduce cost savings. This may be difficult to achieve but is not an impossible task. The successful outcome improvement is dependent on the commitment and resources used. Lastly, must have increment in patients that are scheduled for follow-up. For instance, patients who are discharged must have follow-up appointments with their primary care providers.
Words from Our Clients
Just like other health practices we were using healthcare IT solutions via iPatientCare with a specific end goal to make work quicker, effective and agreeable. It is all helping us ascertained, then iPatientCare offered us Quality Improvement Consulting services. At first point we however don’t obliged whatever other additional items since the work going easily yet on trial base we took it for 1 year. Just in first quarter of the year we earned incredible advantages by means of right clinical, operational and money related data gave via iPatientCare as under Quality Improvement Consulting services This shows us to upgrade our assets, abilities and innovation and improve the patient fulfillment.
MD, Pediatric Associates of Batavia, LLP
Population health management includes aspects of both diagnosis and treatment, similar to clinical practice. Population ‘diagnosis’ encompasses of detecting outbreaks, and measurement of outcomes. Whereas population ‘treatment’ includes the specific actions that are instituted to respond to these diagnostic assessments. Therefore, clinical support system also becomes part of the population health management.
When it comes to decision support, population health management relies heavily on access to reliable data and data analysis. Some decision support applications, are in proximity to the user and workflow as there is less effort required to invoke and utilize the output. Confidence in the process and acceptance of system are the key components of long-term success of population-based decision support.
Why population health management matters?
The primary focus of providers is shifting to preventive medicine and helping patients manage their own lifestyles. Population health is about people as population is composed of individuals. Many people share common chronic disease with common guidelines, but others might be at higher risk of developing that particular chronic disease. Therefore, same guidelines are not applied to all the patients even if they have same chronic disease.
As one cannot force a patient to change lifestyle or to follow a medical regimen, there are tools that are prescribed which help patients to adapt to the changes in their lifestyle. It is an appropriate step to implement deep and customizable patient population registries with analytics and EHR interoperability.
By providing data with equitable care, electronic health records software are designed to decrease divides among populations. The EHR improves patient care and user experience of the providers and patients are offered portals with good visuals and all the information related to their illness. Population health management also presents the providers, opportunities for receiving good incentive payments.
For the population health management program to be more effective it requires fundamental changes in the way patient care is delivered and managed. iPatientCare is one of the healthcare organization with analytical and adaptive capabilities and having the essential components for effective population health management program. The term population health management has become popular, and it makes the practice more cost effective, and safer. Even though unclear at times, population health management is an asset for healthcare organizations.
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