Population Health Success for Rural Systems Requires Manageable Initiatives

Moving the Needle Doesn’t Necessitate Multimillion-Dollar Applications

Start a discussion about addressing population health, and the conversation can often quickly skip ahead to grandiose and buzz-wordy topics like big data, predictive analytics, or artificial intelligence (AI).

But that’s not necessarily the right way to think about the issue of population health, nor do the population health challenges that most rural healthcare systems face require expensive solutions, says Daniel Hart, President of YourCareUniverse, Inc., a MEDHOST company.

“Population health is such an amorphous term that it can be immediately overwhelming,” Hart says. “However, at its core, population health is about creating better health outcomes and coordinating care outside of the facility, while putting more information in the hands of consumers. And for most rural facilities, these things can be achieved by simply breaking things down into manageable initiatives and, in many cases, building on existing community-focused strategies.”

Three Pillars of Population Health

Touching on the aforementioned definition of population health, Hart says MEDHOST is especially assisting customers build population health initiatives around three key pillars:

  1. Addressing consumerism
  2. Building coordinated communities of care
  3. Extending clinical reach with new care models

“As you put more information in the hands of consumers to let them quarterback care, focus on extending care into the community to deal with chronic conditions, and work on connecting various venues of care,” Hart explains, “you can move the needle in population health.”

When asked about analytics, Hart says data does play an important role in population health, but the discussion has not been framed properly.

“Data and the effective analysis of that data is important, but it’s not all or nothing. It doesn’t take the application of predictive analytics or AI to be successful with population health,” he says. “Do rural hospitals need IBM’s Watson or the like to be successful? No. Population health is not some mandate for a facility to leverage a new, multimillion-dollar, boil-the-ocean software solution.”

Population Health Challenges Facing Community Hospitals

Hart explains that while many rural hospitals are active in their communities and engaged with their patients, they do face distinct challenges in addressing the broad issue of population health.

“It’s a resource and bandwidth issue,” Hart says. “The administrators and CEOs of these facilities are first and foremost asking themselves, ‘How do I stay financially viable? How do I deliver the best possible care within the four walls of my facility? How do I drive patient satisfaction?’ All of this is critical and always will be.  But when you have to address all of those issues, in addition to improving the health of the community, it can be a daunting and resource-intensive task.”

But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Also, There are examples of rural hospitals that are on the forefront, Hart says.

“Take Lifepoint Health in Brentwood, Tenn. They have created an initiative called ‘Community Coalitions’,” Hart says. “The initiative focuses on bringing together various community partners, like the Department of Health and local businesses, to take quality initiatives outside of the hospital and improve community health. Effective hospital operators like Lifepoint are taking steps in the right direction to address population health and be leaders in their communities.”

Population Health Initiatives = Good Business

Hart says, when tackled correctly, population health initiatives can help hospitals improve clinical outcomes and operate more efficiently. “These kinds of initiatives are strategic imperatives that fundamentally help hospitals be better businesses in the face of financial challenges. You’re going to better equipped to keep the doors open, improve your margins. Also, retain and recruit staff if you’re employing an effective population health strategy within your community.”

However, MEDHOST offer solutions in all three pillars of population health:
  1. Hospitals looking for ways to address patients as consumers can look to this example of how Jefferson Community Health & Life, a MEDHOST client, is working to meet this challenge.
  2. Extending clinical care is a major challenge for facilities, and the ability to manage chronic conditions is imperative. However, Learn how ACE Medical Group, a MEDHOST client, is addressing this issue.
  3. Hospitals looking for help with care coordination can use this tool to help schedule and request services across their community.

MEDHOST Services

So, Take a look at all that MEDHOST offers, including:

Advanced Clinical Solutions
Financial Solutions
Hosted And Managed Services
Community Scheduling
Condition Management Solution
Patient and Provider Portals
Health & Wellness Engagement Platform
Also, Marketing Services

So, Contact MEDHOST

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