Population health management is a top priority for the majority of healthcare organizations, especially those who acknowledge that risk-based, value-driven reimbursements may soon be the dominant form of payment across the industry.
According to a new HIMSS Analytics Essentials Brief, risk-based population health management programs are gaining ground in the hospital community, and could continue to grow in importance and scope in 2017 and beyond.
Population health management programs in general are becoming more popular, the survey of 104 hospitals found. While only two-thirds of providers had population health programs in place during 2015, that number increased to 75 percent in 2016.
“It is encouraging to see the level of population health programs and initiatives increase in 2016 from our previous 2015 study,” says HIMSS Analytics Director of Research, Brendan FitzGerald. “However, organizations still face challenges with these programs on a number of levels, including data and solution integration, knowledge and expertise, and cost of sustaining these programs long term.”
Most providers focus on chronic disease management, targeting conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, and COPD which are responsible for large down-stream costs. Eighty-three percent of participants had chronic disease initiatives in 2015 – but surprisingly, that figure decreased to 77.2 percent in 2016.
Wellness and prevention programs, including smoking cessation, weight loss, and health programs in workplaces and schools, also saw a slight drop over the past year from 79.8 percent to 72.2 percent, but the patient-centered medical home is gaining in popularity, moving from 50 percent adoption in 2015 to 51.9 percent in 2016.
Clinically integrated network development also rose by nearly two percentage points, perhaps indicating a shift away from piecemeal population health programs towards the implementation of more cohesive, holistic approaches to care coordination and patient management.
The rise in adoption of the PCMH and other integrated care frameworks may also hint at increased comfort and familiarity with health IT tools.
A separate ONC and CDC survey published in April of 2016 found that PCMH and ACO participants are significantly more likely than other providers to have been early adopters of electronic health records and are more reliant on data-driven approaches to care management than their peers.
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