Population Health 2.0 is already brewing

Speakers at the upcoming Pop Health Forum share insights about what the future will look like.
By Tom Sullivan
10:55 AM
Population Health 2.0

Add another buzzy new term to the healthcare and technology lexicon: Population Health 2.0.

The movement is at an interesting inflection point right now, wherein many people are still trying to better grasp what Pop Health 1.0 actually is. At the same time, Pop Health 2.0 will gain more momentum in the near future – next month in Chicago, at the HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Pop Health Forum, in fact.

I checked in with experts slated to speak at the forum and other gurus for a look at where pop health is today and what shape the next wave will take.

Pulse check: Pop Health 1.0

Population health is simultaneously full of promise and feeling some growing pains.

“Pop health today is still in the trial by failure stage,” said Cliff Frank, executive director at Shore Quality Partners. “ACOs struggle to create savings, CFOs remain dubious of the institutional imperative, employers yawn, and payers play both sides of the street.”   

[Register Now: Upcoming HIMSS Pop Health Forum]

That said, hospitals and networks already embarking on population health management initiatives today focus on people with one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to name a few. And those institutions are also deploying several technologies to support such programs.

“Most organizations now have advanced analytics in place to track population health outcomes and process measures, and a fair number have predictive analytic solutions to help identify the patients with highest risk based on claims and EMR data,” said Susan Hawkins, senior vice president of population health at Henry Ford Health System.  

Technology alone will not advance pop health into a more mature state, however, and Frank said that the industry must overcome the current “transfixation of hospital boards at the revenue growth fairy to avoid having to deal with serious transformation,” amid the move toward value-driven care.

That’s today. Pop Health 2.0 is tomorrow.

Crystal ball: Where Pop Health 2.0 is headed

The shift from volume to value has been called population health’s secret sauce. Indeed, Pop Health 2.0 will build on 1.0 pieces and also include a number of more advanced elements.

Henry Ford’s Hawkins pointed to populations stratified into useful buckets based on risk, condition, geography and other factors as one example. That risk-stratification will enable providers to identify gaps and design programs specifically for those.

“We should see greater alignment among myriad data repositories, data exchanges and EMR-based tools to assist providers in their goal to improve value to their patients,” Hawkins said.

Frank added that Pop Health 2.0 will get real when risk shifts from the insurance companies to hospitals and networks and that transformation moves from skunkworks to the executive suite as it becomes core to the organizational mission.

“The promise of population health is that we will be able to more precisely quantify the quality of care delivered, as measured by the results, and thereby become increasingly efficient in terms of time, effort and cost of achieving better outcomes,” said Charles Coleman, a population, behavioral and mental health integration specialist. “Once that's achieved, then the promise of pop health becomes the science inherent in decision support or Pop Health 2.0.”

The Pop Health Forum takes place in Chicago, Oct. 2-3, 2017. I hope to see you there! 

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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