Waterfall

The Population Health Cornerstone Summit

I was recently given the opportunity to act as a scribe during the table discussions for the KLAS Cornerstone Summit on population health. These discussions involved rotating provider participants to each table so that the providers could share their insights on various topics. We jokingly referred to this as “speed dating”, but in reality, it allowed us to pool a large body of insight on a wide array of population health topics.

As a scribe, I was tasked with recording the insights of each rotating group as we discussed changes to the existing population health framework, ways to measure the outcome of population health tools, and how to best overcome vendor and provider challenges. Trying to capture the thoughts of this group was akin to attempting to catch a waterfall in a measuring cup, which is to say that acting as scribe was much harder than I had originally anticipated it would be.

The discussions uncovered several key pieces to the population health puzzle. For example, providers expressed the desire for greater, more open communication with their vendors. In a new and complicated market like population health, providers often rely on their vendor partners’ knowledge. Many providers expressed frustration at missed expectations and oversold abilities.

However, vendors feel that their competition will oversell expectations and shorten projected timelines to maintain a competitive edge. They feel that being conservative with their projections may mean losing out on business entirely. Vendors then feel they need to be “aggressively optimistic” in their projections, knowing that more conservative expectations would better serve their customers. Ideally, conferences such as the Cornerstone Summit serve to bring vendors and providers together to help better match expectations. I don’t know that I have the solution to a problem like this, but I know that opening the line of communication between vendors and providers is the first step.

In later discussions, we reviewed and edited the 2016 Population Health White Paper and discussed how best to refine it. In conducting research after the 2016 summit, KLAS had identified some key points that needed to be incorporated into the 2017 Population Health Framework.

The original white paper had six main pillars for population health:

  • Data Aggregation
  • Analytics
  • Care Coordination/Health Improvement
  • Administrative/Financial
  • Patient Engagement
  • Clinician Engagement

At this year’s summit, we refined the details of that framework. Attendees expressed that the following should be included within the updated document:

  • For population health to succeed, organizations need to identify key stakeholders and assign responsibilities; in other words, governance must be improved.
  • Eventually, data surrounding the social determinants of health should be included in population health analysis.
  • Often, users only find problems with data once they try using it; the usefulness of data should be measured across the six main pillars of population health.

Much of the summit involved difficult discussions between vendors and the providers/payers they serve. I was pleasantly surprised at the pervasive level of mutual understanding and respect that persisted throughout the conference.

Shawn Griffin, VP of Enterprise Analytics at Premier, opened the conference by asking people in attendance to take off whatever hats they had worn into the building. Instead, he suggested that they look at the problem simply as people with specific knowledge and the goal of helping other people. In the end, population health is about our healthcare. It’s about helping you, me, our friends, and our family get the care we need.