Population health barriers include interoperability, data integration

Nurse with patient

As organizations take up population health management initiatives, they must address common problems, including interoperability barriers, data integration and competing health IT priorities, according to results from a recent eHealth Initiative population health survey.

Sixty-five organizations responded to the survey. It found organizations are involved in population health initiatives that included patient-center medical homes (43 percent), Medicare/Medicaid accountable care organizations (42 percent), pay-for-performance programs (39 percent), commercial ACOs (29 percent) and bundled payment initiatives (29 percent).

More of the organizations are using population health activities to address chronic conditions (65 percent), readmission risk (60 percent) and high-cost cases (59 percent). 

The survey also found analytics are vital for measuring quality, yet many organizations have trouble integrating necessary data.

Morgan Honea, chief executive officer of the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO), said on a webinar that examined the survey results, that his organization has focused on developing trust as a means to promote data-sharing.

Another panelist, Kieran Murphy, director of health information exchange at St. Joseph Hoag Health in California, said her health system has successfully linked many of the area's small medical practices, but added "we're still limited by very pedestrian interfaces and [lack of] interoperability. It comes as a shock to people outside the industry that we don't have robust API access to many of these vendor platforms."

As for Intermountain Healthcare, Hunter Scott, systems applications manager, said the patient portal is one way to attract patients. In the future, Intermountain plans to provide a service to notify patients on their mobile devices when the organization shares some of their data.

With robust data and use of analytics, population health management has the power to transform healthcare, FierceHealthIT previously reported. As a result, providers and researchers across the country are trying to find ways to leverage the endless mounds of data entering the system and use it to improve the care of patients in hospitals, communities and states.

In addition, some organizations are teaming up to make population health a reality. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University is embarking on an initiative to test how big data can help improve population health by partnering with data scientists at the University of California San Diego.