Next wave of population health promises to broaden beyond the 1%

As providers focus on access, connectivity, social determinants and bridging gaps in care, they will be able to apply techniques to wider populations than just the most expensive patients.
By Tom Sullivan
01:22 PM
Pop Health Forum 2017

HIMSS Analytics director Brendan FitzGerald sharing results from HIMSS Analytics second population health survey at Boston's Pop Health Forum in April.

Whether the emerging Population Health 2.0 term takes hold or the trend advances without a numerical moniker, certain attributes for the next generation of population health are beginning to crystallize.

Here’s a taste of the advancements that hospital executives should know are coming: Enhanced tracking for patient activities, better connectedness between care settings and patients, more focus on care access, social determinants including health literacy, food security, home environment, language and cultural factors — and a whole heap of incremental learnings from previous approaches.   

Tina Esposito, vice president of the Center for Health Information Services at Advocate Health Care, calls it Pop Health 2.0.

“In contrast to 1.0, Population Health 2.0 focuses more broadly on impactable patient populations and away from narrowly focused subpopulations such as the top 1 percent of patients in terms of cost,” Esposito said.

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Esposito said healthcare organizations will also more effectively combine clinical and claims data. Vik Bakhru, chief operating officer at ConsejoSano, agreed that Pop Health 2.0 will make more sophisticated use of data.

“Whereas incumbent software tools were cohort based and had loosely defined grouping methods, Pop Health 2.0 will incorporate individual patient line item detail that aggregates upward with effective solutions bridging the gap by creating cohorts based on similar barriers to care instead of disease management pathways that group people together simply because they have the same chronic illness,” Bakhru said.

Bakhru pointed to diabetics as an example of a population that healthcare providers have traditionally thought every patient needed either the exact same or one of a small number of similar pathways. Whereas that thinking has started to change in Pop Health 1.0, the next generation will incorporate social determinants of health to better understand individual patients and how to tailor treatments accordingly.

[Also: Population Health 2.0 is already brewing]

“The use of clinical and claims data to help target interventions based on descriptive and predictive data is industry current state and a significant improvement,” Esposito said. “On the short-term horizon, I do see the inclusion of more consumer-centric data that will help lead to the population health 'holy grail' of increased patient engagement.”

That’s the short-term, of course. Esposito and Bakhru agreed that Pop Health 2.0 is in the early stages with exciting conversations happening about how to redefine the healthcare system’s mission and breakdown barriers to improving outcomes for patients and populations alike.

“Much of our progress in the years to come will have been because of the recent focus on value-based care, and the next phase of implementation involves a new era of population health,” Bakhru said. “The next decade holds immense promise as new tools and methods become available to support a common desire to find cost effective therapies that actually address patient needs in a targeted, systematic manner.” 

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