Christus Health CIO: Focus on population health management

George Conklin, CIO and senior vice president of Irving, Texas-based Christus Health, says population management health is one way to utilize health IT while at the same time dealing with slashed budgets.

In an interview with SearchHealthIT, Conklin also talks about three strategies Christus tries to incorporate, in addition to "operational excellence:" clinical integration of health data across facilities in order to take on risk for Medicaid populations; increasing quality; and keeping people out of the hospital to reduce costs.

To Conklin, population health means managing Medicaid and Medicare populations and also patients with diabetes, COPD and cardiovascular disease, using best practices from their own organization and other organizations in the industry, in addition to business intelligence strategies.

Conklin says Christus has been asked to reduce costs at the same time the system must increase IT investments for ICD-10 and other regulatory burdens.

"These reductions come at a time when demand has grown significantly for traditional services but also at a time where we're expanding into new areas such as population health management, health insurance exchanges, community integrations and health information exchange," Conklin says.

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, at her first Health IT Policy Committee meeting in January, said she believes ONC's next phase will focus on harnessing health IT for, among other things, population health.

Population health management will offer a huge opportunity for health information management professionals who gain expertise in the new specialty, an article published last summer in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association predicted.

To learn more:
- read the full interview

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