Checklist: These 7 steps will future-proof your population health program

Hint: It’s going to require working with a lot of hospital departments outside the IT shop.
By Bernie Monegain
12:39 PM
Future-proofing population health

Claudia Miller, a consultant for The Chartis Group and a member of the HIMSS Clinical and Business Intelligence Population Health Task Force, first introduced this advice in September 20015. So we checked in with her for an update.

Here are seven tactics for ensuring that the population health management initiatives you embark on will succeed.

1. Involve executives, and not just for the funding.

As with just about every large-scale and cross-departmental initiative with IT underpinnings, gaining C-suite support is critical to population health and there’s more to it than financing projects. (Although that does, in fact, matter quite a bit.) Miller suggested convincing executives to also participate in wellness programs and, at a bare minimum, strive to reach at least one personal goal because for many of them seeing the program, and potential ROI, in action is the best way to understand population health.

[Also: Future-proofing population health: Embrace predictive analytics, social determinants and patient-generated data now]

2. Win physician friends and influence leaders.

To get any population health program off the ground successfully, your clinicians will need to be on board with it as early in the process as possible. Miller recommends meeting with physician leaders and chief financial officers to assess readiness and review necessary culture change. Enlist clinician champions, including specialists, to encourage participation and identify pop health opportunities that might not be apparent to IT.

3. Get to know your lab team.

Ongoing population health management initiatives will require open dialog about support for biometric screening, tests such as glucose and cholesterol. So work with the lab to craft pricing from the get-go, map out processes for billing the program rather than the patient, determine decisions about whether to use a finger stick or blood draw.

4. Don’t forget about the folks in finance.

While you’re lining up with the labs, enlisting C-suite participants and playing nice with physicians, there’s another group not to neglect: finance. Develop a budget. Miller said it should include staffing, supplies, marketing, equipment, as well as a population health management tool and the IT support that goes with one.

5. Estimate ROI.

Stay one step ahead of your CFO by conducting the due diligence necessary to find out what has and has not worked at other health systems and create graphs and visuals forecasting metrics, such as decreased costs, avoided readmissions, to demonstrate what you expect will work. Outline a plan for re-investing money saved to broaden the program. And Miller advised to prepare for a loss at first while you learn the ropes and master core competencies.

6. Lock down your information security strategy.

Population health work will invariably include plenty of protected health information and personally identifiable information. With so many breaches happening these days, IT should open discussions specific to pop health projects with information security team as well as regulatory and compliance. Protecting PHI and PII are, of course, important — as is having the proper security protocols in place to establish credibility with patients and other participants.

7. Master community outreach and marketing.

The first half-dozen steps were all about getting your house in order. But you also have to attract people to actually participate in the program. Miller said to start by meeting with your marketing experts and outreach gurus, plus human resources. They will provide guidance about the best ways to communicate about the work you are undertaking and why people should pay attention. And it’s a great opportunity to highlight the importance of social determinants and patient engagement.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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