More Hospitals Investing in Population Health Management Tools

July 7, 2016

This article originally appeared at on April 14, 2016.

As the healthcare system transitions to value-based care, healthcare providers are reporting that population health management strategies are influencing quality care through retail care, health IT solutions, and improvements to supply chain management.

According to a recent C-suite survey by Premier, almost half of participants stated that population health management requirements backed by the Affordable Care Act are significantly impacting how they deliver quality care.

“The ACA unleashed a number of alternative payment policies that incent providers to move toward accountability for the health of a defined population,” said Michael J. Alkire, Premier’s Chief Operating Officer.

“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).”

To prepare for the alternative payment models that require better population health management, healthcare providers are changing their system-wide approach to care delivery to improve care coordination.

Out of the 82 hospital executives surveyed in 2016, about 95 percent of respondents cited high-value post-acute care networks as a major area of focus over the next three years.

Ninety-four percent of participants stated that creating value-based care networks will be the biggest challenge to their organizations.

In response to the challenges, healthcare organizations are planning to standardize care delivery and health IT systems across their networks.

Some healthcare providers are attempting to standardize care delivery by integrating retail care into their system, such as retail pharmacy services. Approximately 66 percent of executives reported that their healthcare organizations will own or operate a retail pharmacy in the next three years.

“A key aspect of population health is meeting the patient where they are and providing affordable care options at each level of need,” said Alkire. “Increasingly, we’re seeing providers looking to build their own capabilities to reduce variability and create the standard for how care is provided across the entire episode.”

Researchers also found that hospital executives are increasing capital investments in health IT to increase interoperability and improve care coordination to support their population health management tasks.

While 68 percent of participants claimed their organizations could successfully access ambulatory data from employed physician networks, only 38 percent were able to access health 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,” explained 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.”

To implement value-based healthcare networks, hospital executives are searching for health IT solutions that standardize systems or, at the very least, how they communicate.

Eighty-five percent of respondents reported that, in the next year, they are investing more in health IT and telecommunications.

Interoperability is also a major challenge to hospital supply chain management processes, according to the survey. Many healthcare organizations in the same network are using interoperable systems for procurement, accounting, contract management, and finances.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that the growth of affiliated physician practices has caused major challenges to supply chain management.

For population health management strategies to succeed, researchers reported that more standardization in in supply chain management processes is necessary to expand an organization’s financial reach in the areas of quality and clinical data.

Healthcare providers may face some challenges with navigating the shift to value-based care, the survey pointed out.

To boost population health management goals, it is evident that healthcare organizations are quickly reevaluating how to communicate and coordinate with other providers in their network to deliver the highest quality care.

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