Without an all-in-one solution, health systems vary in their approach to population health IT

Healthcare organizations that have successfully integrated population health management tools have paved the way for other providers. But even with a basic roadmap, no two approaches are the same.

Although health systems can benefit from a core set of guidelines, population health initiatives also rely on a degree of flexibility, according to a recent report published by Chilmark Research.

Based on analysis of three different population health initiatives at Trenton Health Team in New Jersey, Partners HealthCare in Boston, Massachusetts and Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic Health System, the authors identified several critical IT components, including the need to coordinate with several vendors to meet clearly defined metrics.

RELATED: Data sharing is the backbone to community-based population health efforts

Even with that basic framework, organizations vary widely in their approach. Partners HealthCare, for example, worked with more than a dozen different vendors, including several solutions that were developed in-house. On the other hand, Trenton Health Team settled on just one vendor, after terminating two others that couldn’t keep pace with the need to provide data analytics and insights, rather than simply aggregate data.

Meanwhile, Marshfield Clinic Health System tapped into its proprietary EHR system. By making tweaks to the system, it was able to customize a data-driven approach.

Generally, however, an immature population health management technology market means healthcare systems can expect to juggle multiple vendors.

Researchers have voiced concerns that the current health IT systems aren’t equipped to adequately manage population health, even as analytics and health IT tools have become a critical element of population health efforts, particularly at the community level.

Still, hospitals are integrating new data sources to expand the scope of population health programs, including geospatial analytics to merge environmental and social data with clinical information.