Population health management: A key driver of value-based care

Dr. Sarah Matt, Vice President of Solution Strategy, NextGen Healthcare

The industry is abuzz with talk about population health management, but there is some confusion about how to practically work within these kinds of programs to achieve broader value-based care initiatives. A strong population health effort can deliver both clinical and financial value to a physician practice, serving as a key mechanism for value-based care. When designed well, a population health program can proactively identify high-risk patients and transition them into preventive care –which can not only improve patient outcomes but also remove costs from the system.

Organizations that look at population health management as part of an integrated value-based strategy will realize the most success in delivering better health outcomes for lower costs.

How can organizations make sure that their population health programs facilitate value-based care? Here are three steps to keep in mind.

Obtain stakeholder agreement

Success with any population health management program begins with stakeholder agreement. Clinical and financial leaders must identify, agree to and buy into the program’s specific definitions and goals. Since population health definitions vary widely across the industry, reaching agreement may require educating organization leaders on the options and discussing what the practice itself wants to achieve. For example, some practices manage populations within the parameters of incentive and reporting programs, while others take a broader approach to improving overall practice health. Still others are acutely focused on reducing the costs of care for specific populations, such as individuals with diabetes.

Stakeholders should discuss how the population health program will support value-based care and what specifically that relationship will look like. Once a vision is clearly articulated, providers can then make strategic choices regarding resources, tools and processes for effectively leveraging available data, minimizing risk and building strong patient-provider alliances. Limited resources necessitate that providers make informed decisions that deliver the greatest return on investment. As such, healthcare organizations must sort through all the chatter and identify the best strategies and technologies for achieving the specific goals that are relevant to their needs.

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