What Is “Population Health” And How Does It Relate To Our Home Care Solutions

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Let’s Unpack the term “pop health” and talk about how it can lead to “clinical conversation support.”

One key element the HIMSS Annual Conference delivers consistently is a consensus of the latest industry buzzwords. This year, HIMSS2016 did not disappoint. I picked up on the following three:

  1. Value Based Care
  2. Analytics
  3. Population Health

I would venture to guess that more than 75% of the exhibits at the event had at least one of these phrases highlighted on the booth. As an employee at a predictive analytics company that facilitates population health management within the context of value based care (see what I did there?), this alarmed me.

Prior to Medalogix, I was in a very important meeting with a large hospital system client. I had prepared a presentation for the client using tool called Prezi which creates a level of animation to your slides and is pretty cool and flashy. I was very excited about it. However, after a few killer animations the CFO said, half joking/half serious, “Usually when people create really flashy slides it’s because their content isn’t very compelling.” 

I’d say the presentation was decently forgettable, but I will never forget that comment from my client.

Iwill never forget that comment from my client.

This is how I feel when companies use industry buzz words to describe what they do without really unpacking what they mean for their audience. If the only language one has to describe his/her product is a list of the latest industry buzzwords, then either:

1) They don’t really know what their product does

2) What their product actually does isn’t that valuable and is decently forgettable

Population health management can mean a lot of different things. So I want to describe what our home care solutions do in human terms, what we mean when we say “Population Health” and how our home health technology creates value for our clients:

On a nightly basis, we take our clients’ data for every patient on their entire census and review it (or our system does). By using statistical techniques, we’ve identified attributes about patients within the home health population that lend to certain patient outcomes and risk. We then provide a list of those patients who are most likely to experience an outcome (death, readmission, etc…) to our clients, so they can do something about it.

Certain interventions, like clinical review for hospice eligibility, can be very time consuming and resource intensive. Home health providers could not possibly do that work for every patient on their census. Our product prioritizes the patients that should receive clinical review so the providers can make the best use of their time.

Another buzzword I see a lot is “clinical decision support,” and I don’t necessarily think this phrase describes what we do either. What we do is better described as “clinical conversation support.” The clinical activity driven by our products typically leads to various conversations that need to happen in a multi-disciplinary clinical setting, or with a patient and his/her family.

Two examples:

  1. Because our clients use our home care solution, Medalogix Bridge, patients who need to have a conversation about their end-of-life care options have the opportunity to do so much earlier than the typical American. In a lot of cases, patients are not presented with end-of-life care options until the very last week of life.
  2. Because our clients use Medalogix Touch, patients have the opportunity to talk to the nurse about a potential problem that is really concerning them. Without Touch, that conversation may not have happened, and the patient might decide to go back to the hospital.

At the end of the day, when we say “population health,” what we mean is we are helping create timely and appropriate opportunities for clinical conversations within the home health patient population. By identifying the right group of patients to focus on, these conversations have the potential to substantially impact the cost curve of our healthcare system while improving patient outcomes and even the patient’s perception of their care.

Without our predictive analytics/population health/value based solutions, these conversations may happen too late, or they may never happen at all.

*Photo credit: http://memesvault.com/confused-baby-meme-blank/