Population Health: Laying the Foundation of Healthcare’s Next Generation of Care

Today’s healthcare executives can define Population Health Management (PHM) in a dozen ways; from the start of the electronic health record (EHR) journey to initiating value-based services and payment reforms, PHM has many facets that are constantly evolving for executives from year to year.

Provider organizations will inevitably weave through four distinct, but intertwined aspects of PHM—data control and governance, population management and risk stratification, care management, and patient engagement. These aspects come together to marry data with actionable campaigns, engage patient communities, and facilitate accountable care to ultimately achieve PHM. Successfully maneuvering through these areas of PHM is simple enough when summed up in one sentence, but the executives of today’s healthcare environment know that the road to PHM is long and winding, with bumps and barriers along the way.

With the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, which supports the advancement of health information technology (HIT), the industry is truly positioned to make PHM an attainable goal. The slowly evolving federal legislation and advancing HIT increasingly make PHM real for provider communities across the country.1 The challenge now is pushing forward—using new technologies, applying the potential, and begin making a difference in the health of our individual communities and the nation. In this paper, we will explore the unique milestones and challenges of each of the four aspects, which must be overcome, and what role they play in achieving PHM.

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