eHealth Initiative: New payment models driving population health

Value-based payment models aren't going away, making population health initiatives ever more critical, Tricia Nguyen, executive vice president for population health at Texas Health Resources, said during a webinar presenting results from the eHealth Initiative's latest population health survey. 

Nguyen, who also serves as president of the Texas Health Population Health, Education & Innovation Center, warned against the wait-and-see attitude some are taking.

Among 59 responses of individuals used from accountable care organizations, hospitals and health systems, physician practices, health insurance companies and elsewhere, 68.1 percent said they had created new roles or hired staff for population health. Additionally, 68.1 percent said they had begun activities and 76.6 percent had purchased population health or analytics technology; 72.3 percent anticipate making such investments.

Nguyen said there's no single best technology for population health, but there are best-of-breed solutions from multiple vendors. Interoperability remains a huge problem, though, she added.

She also pointed to a study that found patients were contacted up to 15 times in the days following hospital discharge because various providers can't share data.

Population health management activities, according to the survey, are most often aimed at readmission risk (81 percent), multiple chronic conditions (79 percent), ER super users (77 percent) and specific diseases (70 percent).

Eighty-three percent of respondents said they measure success by intermediate outcomes and healthcare processes (72 percent), cost savings (70 percent) and patient satisfaction (70 percent). Thirty-seven percent said they're integrating patient-reported data.

These percentages far surpass the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services's goal of having 30 percent of providers in value-based payment models by the end of 2016, suggesting the results are skewed, said moderator Charles Kennedy, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions at Aetna.

Reducing the burden on physicians must be a priority, added Shawn P. Griffin, chief quality and informatics officer for Memorial Hermann Physician Network.

With updated regulations, he said,  "I am hopeful there will be greater flexibility, so providers can focus on workflow and outcomes, and not whether they checked the boxes on the screen."

To learn more:
- view the presentation (.pdf)
- listen to the webinar

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