What’s the Deal with Population Health Management? - Cover

What’s the Deal with Population Health Management?

Despite the time of year, this post has nothing to do with the World Cup and everything to do with uncovering the mysteries of the elusive population health field. Since KLAS last checked into the space, additional vendors of all stripes have poured onto the field, saying, “We do population health management—pick us!” At this point in the game, population health is still undefined in many providers’ minds.  

In theory, population health niche vendors are supposed to provide analytics and care management functionality to help providers understand, analyze, and proactively manage patient populations. However, the waters are still muddied as to what “population health” really means in detail. One provider recently expressed a concern: “Each vendor has its own niche and take on what population health is. The definition of population health is general in nature, so we don’t know what we don’t know yet. . . . Population health boils down to whatever bells and whistles the vendors can put together to drive down costs, improve quality, and ensure our reimbursement stays intact.” This provider does not feel like the vendors are all on the same page, so he has defined what population health means to his organization.

The future of preventive care lies in the coordination of accountable care organizations, HIEs, business intelligence products, and EMRs to provide a better continuum of care for us as patients. But that care improvement also largely depends upon the success of many vendors and how well they help providers understand and manage their patient populations. So what is population health management really, and who are the leaders in the space? Providers are using “population health” vendor services to aggregate patient data, stratify risk, coordinate care, and engage patients in their own care. As for the story on vendors, this month we plan to release a report that will shed some light on this still-emerging segment of healthcare.

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