EHR vendors battle pure-play population health tools in maturing market

Research firm IDC found big variations in analytic capabilities and technological sophistication among today’s leading population health management vendors, approximately half of which are electronic health records companies.
By Mike Miliard
12:50 PM
EHR population health

Despite being the buzzword du jour, with an array of definitions of varying usefulness, population health management technologies are maturing and appear poised to transform healthcare, according to IDC Health Insights.

The consultancy said that population health management software must have the functionality to identify at-risk patient populations – or those predicted to be at risk in the future – and has to enable provider performance measurement, the creation and monitoring care plans and communication with communities of patients and individuals alike.

But researchers see big variations in the the analytic capabilities in these various systems – specifically with regard to risk stratification and performance measurement – as well as with the degree of integration with electronic health records and the sophistication of care plan development.

[Are EHRs getting better? Readers rank vendors higher than last year in new survey]

Notably, the number of market leaders has doubled over the past two years – with EHR vendors accounting for half the pack, according to IDC.

Its new MarketScape report, "U.S. Population Health Management, 2016 Vendor Assessment," IDC evaluated pop health platforms from Allscripts, athenahealth, Caradigm, eClinicalWorks, Enli, IBM Phytel, McKesson, Medecision, Optum, The Advisory Board Company and Wellcentive.

"Some vendors have exited the market while others have for the first time qualified for inclusion," IDC Research Director Cynthia Burghard said in a statement. "We expect market maturity will continue to grow at a rapid pace."

Indeed, the population health management market is fast-evolving and highly competitive, according to the report, which notes, for instance, that more and more companies are developing disease-specific applications for patients with chronic illnesses.

"At this nascent stage of population health management, the approaches have been based on historic approaches," Burghard added. "With maturity, the need to be more precise in our analysis, more personalized in care plan development and more proactive in patient engagement will grow."

Helpful advice for planning to purchase a population health platform:

⇒ Experts explain what to look for when choosing a population health platform
⇒ Comparison chart of 8 population health products 
⇒ An in-depth look at 8 population health software programs

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