Population Health

Physicians and healthcare personnel these days make use of their electronic health record (EHR) to evaluate data in order to provide their patients with value-based care. EHR provides access to rich, comprehensive data on a large population for research, analytics, healthcare outcomes, diagnosis, and preventive care. The end goal of acquiring this data is to connect population health with value-based care. For eg, data from EHR can identify patients’ health concerns like a need for health screening, mammograms or colonoscopies based on multiple factors – their age, gender, history. This empowers physicians to conduct preventive care, notify patients about getting the recommended screening to prevent the early onset of any debilitating disease.

EHR empowers physicians and healthcare personnel to also analyze available data for clinical decision support purposes. Clinical decision support (CDS) impacts the quality of services provided to patients,  efficient healthcare outcomes, reduced errors and, increase in cost benefits. Clinical decision support through EHR helps in diagnostic decision-making, prescription drug support, and clinical procedures. This provides clinicians, healthcare staff, and patients with the individual-specific information, filtered intelligently and presented right at the point of care, enhancing decision-making in clinical workflow. EHR implementation potentially supports physicians and their staff with the execution of population health management at a granular level that would not be achievable in the absence of this technology.

“I would like to see clinical decision support tools assist radiologists in improving the appropriateness of follow-up recommendations for incidental findings,” said Sabiha Raoof, MD, chief medical officer and patient safety officer at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. “Clinical decision support for radiologists will help improve adherence to guidelines for follow-up of these incidental findings. It will help reduce the variability in follow-up recommendations and reduce unnecessary imaging studies. Having these guidelines available at the point of care is critical.”

Creating interoperability across the care continuum with the help of EHR is a top priority for providers, payers, and other key industry stakeholders when it comes to population health management. Interoperability allows the integration of additional interfaces and systems, like hospitals, health systems, delivery networks, community clinics, physician practices, and service providers. This integration in an EHR allows physicians to have a holistic view of patient’s data and tailor their care in ways that are safe, highly efficient, and cost-effective right.

According to the data obtained through a survey carried out by an independent, nonprofit organization, a large proportion of healthcare establishments are already involved with population health management with an aim of refining the quality of care and improving the efficiency of healthcare with the help of data and information technology. This survey included the network of accountable healthcare establishments, healthcare providers, and health plans. The results of the survey revealed that more than 75 percent of these healthcare establishments developed and invested in healthcare IT and in data analytics for population health management. The collection of data can be conveniently shared and leveraged for quality improvement and prevention activities. EHRs can advance public health surveillance and reporting, promote disease prevention, and improve interaction between public health administrators and healthcare providers.

For instance, physicians can analyze information about a group of diabetic patients in order to evaluate that how soon their sugar levels become stable after seeking treatment from a physician. This information allows devising the most effective medication management and overall treatment plan for a specific patient leading to an effective population health management.

With this comprehensive overview, population health management solutions offered through EHR allows healthcare providers to be vigilant about gaps in the provision of value-based care. These solutions and their capability of providing population data analytics will not only help in increasing the productivity of a healthcare setting but will also have a greater impact in a broader aspect. The acquired information can be utilized to provide healthcare opportunities for a wider community by incorporating telemedicine and arranging home health care. This data can be used by health experts and physicians to make timely and informed decisions regarding the allocation of resources, driving policies decisions, and in the prevention of diseases. The long-term impact of equipping healthcare professionals with this valuable data will appear in the form of reduced health care costs and an improved patient engagement to support the overall population’s health. Patient engagement can encourage patients to participate in their own healthcare.

 

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