The Emergence of Data-Driven Population Health Management

Healthcare providers are inundated with mountains of data, but health care organizations struggle to utilize information in a way that improves patient outcomes. Data and analytics are being tapped as the potential game-changers for the industry, according to FierceHealthIT, and will have a profound effect on population health management.

Applying the Data

Population health management is one area where these analytics can truly have a significant impact. FierceHealthIT reported that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is hoping that data, in conjunction with a new approach to overall care, will positively affect their patients. Chief Innovation Officer Rasu Shrestha summarized UPMCs goals by saying, “What we’re focused on is a number of different things: we’re looking at the entire continuum of care, trying to define patient populations, identifying gaps in care, stratifying risk and engaging the patient.”

Providers are beginning to grasp the potential of data and the impact it may have on these new care models. Emerging  technology will help nurses and doctors use this data in a meaningful way. The key will be to have systems in place that make the data accessible and actionable. This will enable providers to coordinate their patients care based on their health information and need.

According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations like Boston-based Partners HealthCare are using patient data to help adjust treatment programs for people with chronic conditions like diabetes. Not only will the data they’re accessing be used to shape their treatment programs, but the providers will also be able to track progress and document patient interactions.

The Big Picture

Providers accumulate a significant amount of data for their patients who are afflicted with chronic conditions due to constant visits, remote check-ins, monitoring, etc. Culling this data is tedious  and medical records need to be accessible by all care team members – data in current IT systems isn’t visible to all members- for example, visiting nurses need to be able to see physicians’ notes, and vice versa.

Lack of transparency across care teams is disappearing, however. Emerging technology focused on increasing accessibility and empowering care coordination will positively impact the way in which healthcare organizations are able to share and apply this information to adjust treatment programs for their at-risk patients.

As population health management improves and patients become more active in their care, data that’s collected – via medical records, social media use, genetic data, and wearable sensors – from individual patients can also be used in helping to improve preventative care. According to Forbes, patient data will no longer be treated in isolation, it will be thoroughly compared, collated and analyzed by organizations like the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. Instead of data existing in isolation, siloed away in some type of archival setting, it will contribute to improving health outcomes for entire patient populations.

The manner in which the data is collected will also change, as technology will allow patients and medical professionals to interact outside of the physical locale of the hospital setting. Patients will be able to easily interact with doctors or nurses, and a data trail will be created over the course of the conversation.