The Current State of Population Health
We are going to see an extraordinary change in the next decade. Health care facilities are going to now be responsible for managing patients and populations away from the hospital. Health care facilities will be rewarded for their quality, safety and efficiency instead of their volume.
Approximately 750 accountable care organizations (ACOs) are in operation today, covering some 23.5 million lives covered under Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. Although still in the learning stages, many ACOs have had notable success in improving quality while reducing cost. As promising results continue to emerge, more of these organizations — whose existence was once thought to be more fantasy than reality — are expected.
Memorial Hermann has already made the transition to start thinking of itself differently and focus on the health of Houston. In 2011, it stood up an ACO and now counts 406,000 of Houston’s population among its users. Cerner’s population health management platform, HealtheIntentSM, has also joined the system’s solution set as Memorial Hermann works to proactively engage its neighbors in their own health and care.
These types of platforms represent a shift from applications focused on documenting the patient’s record of care to applications focused on developing the patient’s plan for health. Health care interventions that occur solely through office-based patient or provider interactions will no longer provide the level of monitoring and scrutiny we need to manage the health of individuals and populations. Thus, we must continue to harness the power of technology to engage patients in their care through tools like patient portals and personal health records, as well as the use of social media, texting and email.
As the chief strategy officer and CIO at Memorial Hermann Health System, David Bradshaw’s focus is the small digital parcels tucked in the pockets of thousands of health care consumers around Houston.
“I want Cerner to become a consumer tech company,” said Bradshaw. “That’s where I’d like to see Cerner really drive the conversation in the next decade. Ultimately, that’s where we’re all going as we empower the consumer like they have in other industries like banking and finance.”
As the industry continues its transition from a fragmented, volume-based system toward one that embraces the notion of patient-centered, accountable care driven by value-based payment models, now is the time for organizations to consider what new relationships, IT assets and skills will be required to succeed — particularly when it comes to managing the health and care of attributed populations. At the end of the day, the goal is to make health care better.