Real population health management takes flexible, innovative leaders

Population health management (PHM) requires contributions from everyone in a healthcare organization, but there are several steps hospital leaders must take to ensure the initiative is successful, according to a column from Executive Insight.

Part of achieving the improved population health and care quality goals associated with PHM is developing a perspective that acknowledges the new realities of an increasingly value-based healthcare system, write Kenneth Kaufman, Mark E. Grube and Robert W. York of Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC. To operate under a PHM-based model, most providers must make significant reforms, as well as accept the larger role non-hospital community institutions will necessarily play in such a system.

Healthcare leaders must also work to improve their organizations' agility, balancing their management of current operations and the dramatic changes necessary to keep pace with the industry. This may be difficult for legacy providers, who will likely have to redesign certain aspects of their operations, workforce and infrastructure to make the transition, the authors noted. "Sharing one's 'perceived power' with others is a critical aspect," write Kaufman, Grube and York. "Working with the best ideas, agile leaders will formulate a new vision of their organizations' future, and through teamwork, will do the hard work needed to make the transformation."

Continuing to innovate and experiment is also key, the authors write. Effective leaders must be able to practically discover what works without sacrificing normal operations, understanding that occasional failure is a necessary aspect of the trial-and-error process. As an example, they cite University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's 2012 "Moon Shots" initiative to drastically curtail mortality from seven types of cancer. Last week, the White House announced a similar initiative to seek a cure for the disease.

To learn more:
- here's the column