According to a HIMSS Analytics Survey, 93% of clinicians believe that population health is shifting the industry.
If you are in the midst of implementing population health initiatives, it is likely that you have run into a few snags along the way. On the flip side, if you have not yet started this process, you might be holding back due to some predicted roadblocks you expect to run into. Either way you swing it, there are challenges that exist for providers when it comes to population health. It is important to note that while there are challenges, there are also solutions.
Let’s jump into a few of the challenges practice face in regards to population health…
Knowing How to Start –
Your practice has the best intentions in mind when looking towards population health initiatives. With that being said, remember that when you begin this endeavor, it is likely you cannot attack every single health issue that presents. The list of potential health initiative to pursue may include…
- Congestive Heart Failure
- COPD & Asthma
Start with one, or a couple, of these and move forward from there. Try to steer clear of weighing down your staff with too many new hefty initiatives at once. If you choose one initiative, your staff can create a “pilot case” and build a strong foundation for every other population health issue moving forward.
Stratifying Patients by Risk –
Stratifying your patient population by risk is a large task to undertake which requires a fair bit of understanding of your HIT software. This stratification of data enables providers to pinpoint exactly where action needs taken within a specific patient population to improve health outcomes. Health IT Analytics states, “Assigning risk scores to patients based on the number and complexity of their chronic diseases, socioeconomic challenges, spending patterns, and physiological risk factors can help providers forestall crisis events and engage patients in wellness activities before conditions worsen.” To put it simple, in order to overcome this challenge, the provider or staff in charge of this task must have an understanding of the EHR system and the patient population at hand.
Investing in Staff Hours –
For your population health initiatives to see success, you need to make an investment. This investment comes in time and money into hiring or reallocating staff time to the process. This new initiative may require that you reallocate some of your allotted resources to these projects. Plan accordingly and allow flexibility as you move throughout this period of growth and expansion.
Increasing Patient Engagement –
In order for your office’s population health management initiatives to succeed, patients will have to take an active role in their health. Your office needs to engage with them and help them embrace control of their own healthcare outcomes. Patient engagement is crucial, and this can be seen as a hurdle if your patient base faces barriers in their daily lives. Most patients WANT to follow their care plans, however, they face issues like lack of transportation to visits, high medication costs, work schedules and more.
When your practice begins to tackle any new initiative, hurdles will always be present. There are learning curves, regulatory standards, time constraints, and more. If you and your office staff are determined to see success, you will. Population health management improves healthcare outcomes, which is ultimately what you are seeking to do as a provider… heal. You can overcome these barriers.