Population Health Management and HIE Integration

Population Health Management and HIE Integration

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As 2013 flies right past us, the coming year is rushing in with a promise of "healthcare for all" yet the funding and staffing is not increasing. Many organizations are having to cut their budgets! The big questions is....what are healthcare organizations going to do? It is time to change the model and focus on the health of our population. Population Health Management and the Health Information Exchange are instrumental tools to bettering the health of the population as a whole.   Are you doing your part to help improve population health?  And can HIE connectivity make those efforts more successful?

Population Health Management (PHM) programs are a platform for shared data which allows for growth beyond the individual hospital, community, state or region.  From the graphic below you can see the relationship between an HIE and a Population Health Management solution.  Each healthcare provider, whether it is a small physician’s office or a large hospital, that uses an EHR for patient files automatically sends the information to the Health Information Exchange they are connected to.  Each healthcare organization that is connected to that HIE can then have its patient data analyzed under one large Population Health Management Solution.  Having a larger collection of patient and healthcare provider data provides for a more accurate picture of what the population actually looks like, what illnesses the population is more prone to, how the health care providers are addressing the patient’s needs, and what treatments are most accepted, cost effective, and provide the best outcome for both the patient and the healthcare provider.  

 

 

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Image Credit - Wellcentive

HIEs can monitor not only their own organizations data, but they can use the data from multiple organizations to compare provider performance, data quality, view patient experience surveys, provide a better preventative care and disease management, and much more.  With access to this information the health care organizations can then better their practice by implementing processes they have seen provide positive feedback which in return will lead to an organization with a more streamlined workflow and cost effective patient care plans.

Along with the positive effects a Population Health Management solution can provide in patient care, there are many other ways PHM solutions can help to benefit a healthcare organization.  The data collected can promote compliance, resource management, and care coordination among others.  The physicians will have the ability to track individual patients and identify patients with gaps in their care plans.  Performance based and risk based reimbursement and incentive programs are rapidly growing in not only the number of opportunities provided, but also importance.  Having access to a complete set of data that is both accurate and up to date through both an HIE and PHM program will greatly increase a hospital's eligibility for such incentives.

Although having your healthcare organization connected to an HIE is the the most effective way to contribute to improving population health, there are many other ways you can help.  Any hospital that uses a EMR for patient data is collecting and storing the patient information conveniently within the walls of their organization.  With all of the information at your fingertips, is your hospital reviewing and analyzing the information effectively?  Even though the data might not be from a large population of your region, city, or state, it can still be extremely beneficial to your hospital.  You can review the patient information and data to see what health issues are most prevalent at your hospital, who seems to be at a higher risk, what treatment plan has the highest success rate, and much more.

Another way hospitals and physicians offices can help improve population health without being connected to an HIE is by implementing automation tools to close the gap between a patient and the caregiver after and between appointments.  Implementing an automated system to communicate with patients and monitor their health without having a face to face appointment not only allows the physician the ability to keep up with a patient's progress but also addresses the issue of spending their time effectively with patients.

Even if your healthcare organization is not connected to an HIE, you can still improve population health in more than just your office.  Your hospital or physician's office, along with others in your area, can take part in a community health partnership with the goal of bringing physicians together to discuss many different topics.  Although you will not be able to access the patient files and review other hospitals’ data, you can come together with clinicians, civic groups, social service providers, and educational leaders to help improve population health.  All of these individuals can offer a different insight into areas of population health such as illnesses and diseases that are more prevalent in your area, successful treatment plans, improve the population's access to primary and preventative care, and more.  Even without the connectivity to a Health Information Exchange, you can do your part to help improve population health.

Population Health Management programs integrated with an HIE help to provide a better understanding of how to improve patient care in one area in hopes of improving patient care across an entire population.  Whether you are currently connected to an HIE, in the process of gaining connectivity, or are lacking connectivity, you can still contribute to improve population health one health care organization at a time.

~Ashley West