Data analytics tools are helping Memorial Hermann Physician Network serving the Houston region to manage population health as it participates in the Medicare Shared Savings accountable care organization program.

During a session at Health Data Management’s Healthcare Analytics Symposium & Expo, July 15-17 in Chicago, Shawn Griffin, M.D., chief quality and informatics officer for the network, will walk through tools for risk assessment and to reduce readmissions, among other population health management functions.

But new processes and health information exchange to prevent duplication of efforts between the ACO and other parts of the physician network are just as critical, Griffin says. For instance, discharged patients receive a call from the floor nurse, discharge manager and admitting physician to make sure they are doing okay at home. But how does an organization ensure that a patient isn’t receiving three calls during the first day home, but no calls on the third day when they might be having trouble? Griffin will walk through how Memorial Hermann Physician Network is managing care, outreach and coordination to ensure that patients are getting the follow-up treatment and support they need without becoming overwhelmed.

He’ll also warn of the limitations of using HIE technology without supporting processes in place. “You really need an information infrastructure greater than HIE to power population management.” For instance, an organization needs a process to make sure a primary care physician knows when a patient has been admitted to the hospital and when the patient is being discharged.

Clinical committees can help an organization set the ground rules for how practices participating in an ACO will operate and coordinate care, rather than duplicate it, with non-participating practices, Griffin says. For better overall population care management across an organization, a separate centralized clinical committee through consensus can develop new policies that affect the entire enterprise, such as requiring the admitting physician to see a patient with four hours of admission. The important decisions, he adds, need to be implemented at a corporate level, such as developing the immediate care protocols for patients admitted with congestive heart failure. “The analytics are an important set of tools, but the people you put in to support your technology are just as important.”

More information on the Healthcare Analytics Symposium is available here.

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