Population health management is a healthcare concept that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. It is viewed as a solution for improving care quality, clinical outcomes, efficiency and even financial outcomes. However, many healthcare providers struggle to understand how they can implement population health strategies within their own practice. Adopting a population health management program requires efforts like analyzing clinical data, stratifying patients by risk and disease, developing personalized outreach campaigns for subpopulations of patients, regularly communicating with patients, monitoring patients between visits and taking steps to proactively help patients avoid adverse health issues. This creates a dizzying to-do list for healthcare practices that are already short on time and resources. What many healthcare providers do not realize is that they have a solution at their fingertips that can make implementing a population health management program less overwhelming: their patient engagement technology.
Many providers believe they do not have the necessary manpower to execute a population health management program. Survey results show that 44 percent of providers worry that adopting a population health program will create staffing issues. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Technology enables providers to automate tasks associated with population health management so they can be done more efficiently. More specifically, patient engagement technology allows providers to automate patient outreach so they can connect with patients and support them in ways that could never be done manually.
To manage the health of an entire patient population, healthcare teams need to create targeted campaigns that work to provide continuous support to all patients. This includes patients with multiple chronic conditions, patients that may be at risk for developing health issues and even healthy patients. Here are a few examples of how healthcare teams can automate patient outreach for successful population health management:
Chronic Disease Management
Staff can easily create and send automated messages to a group of patients that have a common condition, such as diabetes. This group of patients may receive reminders to check their blood glucose, notifications when they are due for foot or eye exams or prompts to schedule appointments for AC1 draws. Providers could also send these patients automated messages with healthy lifestyle tips for managing diabetes.
An outreach campaign can be created to help at-risk patients prevent serious health issues. This might mean that staff sends a series of automated messages to the subpopulation of patients with elevated blood pressure. Patients may receive information about reducing their sodium intake, tips to help them make healthy meal choices and reminders to engage in daily physical activity. Teams can also send patients information about the dangers of high blood pressure, and engagement messages to motivate them to take preventive actions to protect their health.
Routine Health Maintenance
Even the healthiest patients within a population can benefit from automated engagement campaigns. Providers may want to send healthy patients seasonal messages like a flu shot reminder in the fall. Teams can also send patients a notice when they are due for an annual exam. The idea is to encourage patients who are generally healthy to take steps to maintain their health. Rather than contacting each patient individually, providers can send targeted messages on a mass scale to make patient outreach and population health management more efficient.
It is clear that population health management offers benefits to both patients and healthcare practices. It is worth the effort for providers to learn about solutions they can use to overcome obstacles and succeed at population health management. Fortunately, many healthcare teams already have one solution in place: their patient engagement technology. Teams that pair this tool with smart population health strategies can prevent much of the stress of transitioning to a population health model.