Using Interactive Technology to Improve Population Health
August 16, 2016
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, shifting to a more value-based approach, population health has quickly become a more critical concern for different communities around the world. Creating an economy of scale for a group of people is a hard task to accomplish. Until everyone in the entire population is healthy, this value approach will continue to cost people money, proving the importance of population health and why we must take a deeper look as to how to alleviate some of these problems. But what is population health anyway?
“Population health is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. These groups are often geographic populations such as nations or communities, but can also be other groups such as employees, ethnic groups, disabled persons, prisoners, or any other defined group. The health outcomes of such groups are of relevance to policy makers in both the public and private sectors.” –Improving Population Health
With this in mind, it’s evident that the success of healthcare treatment is now being based on the overall status of a community, rather than an individual or family. This means that other people’s health can now affect your costs, your premiums and the overall health status of your household. The theme of Triple Aim suggests that the U.S. health care system requires that we must improve the patient experience of healthcare, improve the health of populations and reduce the per capita cost of healthcare. Jive helps to address these issues in population health, focusing on improving the patient experience in healthcare overall. As population health initiatives are further developed within societies, technology serves as the enabler of strategies to accomplish improved well being for all. Technology has a big role to play here as clinicians need systems to help drive precise decision making and data to assist in making better diagnosis.
Healthcare executives overwhelmingly believe that health IT has a positive impact on their organizations. In fact, 88% indicate that technology helps them provide better quality of care (HealthData Management). Bridging this into the patient population is a natural evolution—especially with the rise of social and mobile technology. Social technology can help connect health systems and patients strategically and proactively, managing clinical and financial opportunities to improve health outcomes and create patient engagement—all while reducing costs.
Engaged Patients Build Healthier Communities
What is the secret to improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare you might ask? Patient and family engagement. Engagement plays a huge role in improving population health, and when you add interactive technology such as a patient community, engagement dramatically increases. According to a recent medical study: “Text messaging interventions increased adherence to ART and smoking cessation and should be considered for inclusion in services.” – PLOS Medicine
Interactive technology connects people to their health goals, services and creates avenues for clinicians to engage with patients. It can connect those suffering from similar chronic diseases, or inform those operating within the same insurance plans. Engagement communities help give patients a better way to engage, enabling them to ask questions, get answers, search a knowledge base from certified professionals or just interact with a neighbor. In short, patient engagement communities can serve as an extension of a practice.
Your Current Technology Isn’t Working
Many organizations are running into innovation barriers, but this isn’t because of the process, it’s due to their technology not meeting their patients’ needs. Often, patient-centric tools are embedded in archaic architectures. They aren’t mobile-friendly, they don’t connect patients to the resources and support they desire and they definitely don’t capture real-time analytics.
Suddenly you will find that all of the health IT tools companies call population health today will be irrelevant because the data they look at can only see what goes through a hospital, which is far too narrow in scope… There is a lot of talk nowadays around psychosocial determinants, behavior modifications, those are going to be big issues that IT can help
Adrian Zai, MD at Massachusetts General
Population health is more than just studying claims and outcomes. Claims data doesn’t necessarily define a patient population. In fact, most hospitals’ claims data only covers about 20-30% of an area’s population due to the fact that one must have insurance to process a claim (Future Care).
Digitally Transform the Patient Experience
Truly successful population health can only be measured with intelligent, real-time analytics that digitally track the patient experience. This allows clinicians to monitor and study a patient’s full health outcome, the connections they build within communities and the types of information patients care about. This also creates a gateway for the uninsured to have access to tools and resources that can save lives. A social community can paint the portrait of how a patient behaves outside of a clinic.
Make It Mobile, Get the Data
Everything needs to be mobile; the age of desktop is over. Many organizations, however, miss out on countless engagement opportunities due to a lack of mobile support. Whether it’s from an app store or built with a response design webpage, technology that allows patients to interact from any device they choose will drive patient adoption. This adoption gives healthcare organizations the ability to extract deep analytics from any platform. Boris Rachev, a Global Healthcare Economist for CSC, recently identified this as a major trend:
Data gathered through peer-to-peer collaboration that can help healthcare organizations unlock the collective intelligence of physician ‘learning networks’ driving knowledge and discovery. With the help of such intelligent algorithms, such data will be delivered to their fingertips of physicians to help them make data-driven decisions for patient care in real time.
Boris Rachev, Global Healthcare Economist at CSC
Through the power of big data and analytics, clinicians can team up with IT to create new solutions for population health. Virtually all social technological tools and resources identified can be leveraged to enhance self-care behaviors. Supplying patients with interactive technologies can help plot courses of new treatments, create new healthy interaction points and deliver robust communications to patients after appointments.
Become Community Focused
In the end, population health is about improving the health of the communities we serve. Interactive health and wellness communities help people better understand their treatment options, enable people to get support with certified experts and empower true patient engagement among clinical peers. Together, all of these factors drive greater health outcomes for groups and individuals.
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