How Data Empowers Your Population Health Management Program to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

May 31, 2019

It’s no secret that technology and data have rapidly become a provider’s most powerful tools for reducing costs and improving care. St. Vincent Health Partners offers a great example. They’re using technology and data to drive their population health management program, and as a result, they now have access to high-quality and trustworthy analytics—including immediate insight into care practices, which gives them a clear roadmap to improving the patient experience and creating better health outcomes. They’re now seeing fewer patients getting out-of-network care, fewer patients with ambulatory sensitive conditions requiring emergency care, and lower per-member-per-month costs.

So far, providers are primarily focusing their population health efforts on groups of patients with the same chronic disease like asthma or diabetes. The key piece of this puzzle is the ability to combine data across the entire sequence of care. This is the only way to begin building risk-scoring frameworks that allow providers to segment patient groups and identify who is at-risk and in need of intervention. And while technology is critical, the ability for providers to access data at the point of care is the true enabler of more informed decision making.

In order to take your population health program a step further, data processes used to identify at-risk groups and gaps in care can be automated for more efficiency and less bias. Providers who have invested in data literacy can implement automated care reminders via phone, text, email, patient portals, etc., empowering patients to be more proactive in their care, in turn driving more positive health outcomes.

healthcare data
Providers' ability to access data at the point of care is the true enabler of more informed decision making.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. (MHM) offers another great example of shifting from a focus on acute, episodic care delivery to chronic disease management using data to power preventative efforts. MHM is using data to understand the best ways to engage patients and inspire a proactive approach to their own health by using technology to share key information between their facilities, programs and departments. You may wonder, what does this program actually look like?

First, they’ve begun using data to understand their patient population’s diverse care needs and determine which groups would most benefit from special intervention. For example, before building a new facility or offering a new service, MHM takes a look at the prevalence and causes of infectious disease in the targeted population. Whatever specific challenges that population faces define the types of care intervention that the facility or service will offer. For instance, MHM patients with diabetes are offered targeted intervention through certified diabetes health instructors who show patients how to most effectively battle their illness.

Data is also vital in monitoring and containing the spread of contagions and food-borne illnesses. Traditional surveillance methods (laboratory tests, epidemiological data from public health organizations) are still a gold standard, however big data from electronic health records and even social media can provide more timely and detailed information. When paired with traditional methods, efforts to track and control outbreaks get a powerful boost.

Identifying facilities with frequent cases of hospital-acquired infections is also a very valuable use of health data. These infections are not only life-threatening for patients, but they are also extremely expensive for all involved. The ability to target prevention efforts where they will have the most impact can drastically improve patient outcomes within a specific community, as well as the provider’s reputation and ability to positively impact community health.

Now that you can see some of the real-world impacts of using data to boost a provider’s quality of care and reduce costs, you’ll likely be wondering how data can help you to implement a program like this. Our position as a data analytics consulting partner in the Midwest has allowed us to work with providers just like you, so we understand the challenges you face and the opportunities you have available. Contact us to find out how you can give your care delivery and population health program a major advantage with data.

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