Hospitals go big to take on population health management

With improving population health management high on the list of many healthcare executives' goals, some hospitals have discovered that the best way to achieve this is to join forces with other facilities.

Such is the case in Maryland, where 10 hospitals--comprising five distinct health systems--announced plans Monday to form the Advanced Health Collaborative, a network intended to share costs and patient care programs in order to speed the transition to value-based payment, Healthcare Finance News reported.

Though the group will have an overarching chief executive, the deal is not a merger, and each affiliated system will remain a distinct provider, the article notes.

Burlington, Massachusetts-based Lahey Health has no such qualms about mergers, as it's been on a "spree" of consolidating four community hospitals since 2012, according to another Healthcare Finance News article. The company believes that adding patient volume through consolidation is the best way to pursue the broader goal of keeping populations healthy, Chief Financial Officer Timothy O'Connor told the publication.

"Many of us believe that population health management is likely to continue. That means utilization of healthcare services will continue to go down," he said. "As a result, hospitals want to care for a larger population of patients at the lowest utilization rate in order to sustain their financial viability."

Some hospitals have also tailored their design to meet population health needs, FierceHealthcare has reported, spearheading efforts to make their campuses more convenient and community-friendly.

But health systems do not have to go it alone in the effort to better manage population health. Some of the most successful population health strategies include hospital-community partnerships; hospital-employer collaboration; consumer-tailored websites that allow patients to manage their health and access resources; and data-driven strategies such as segmenting the population via health-risk stratification, according to a recent thought paper from Aegis Health Group.

"These proactive plans address [hospitals'] local consumer population, turning them into engaged patients which should yield dividends as health systems navigate the value- and performance-based world to their advantage," Aegis President and CEO Phil Suiter said in an announcement.

To learn more:
- here's the first Healthcare Finance News article
- read the second Healthcare Finance News piece
- check out the Aegis thought paper
- here's the Aegis announcement