A majority of healthcare organizations have population health management programs in place, and this year are depending on health information technology improvements to achieve program goals.

Top HIT initiatives to support population health programs include working to enhance electronic health record functionality, while driving clinical improvements and interoperability.

The ability to connect data across a variety of clinical systems is needed to provide a broader picture of individual patients and better manage their care needs, say the results of a recent healthcare leadership study, conducted by HIMSS and sponsored by Royal Philips. The results correlate with observations of many at the HIMSS16 annual conference and exposition.

The rapid shift to value-based care is causing providers to triage capital spending and projects. While EHRs are now implemented in the vast majority of U.S. hospitals, providers feel pressure to improve their analysis of data and gain insights that will help them become more efficient and raise quality.

As more organizations increase efforts to coordinate care across the continuum, sharing data from digital records becomes more important, says Jeroen Tas, CEO of Connected Care and Health Informatics for Philips

“The transition to value-based care is driving an increasing number of health IT challenges that can be addressed by innovative connected solutions that spur collaboration between providers and patients across the entire health continuum,” Tas says.

The survey found that more than two-thirds of the 105 respondents to the survey reported that they have population health programs in underway in readmissions, acute care and patient education, and more than half of respondents reported that their organizations have programs to help patients who are suffering from chronic pain.

When asked what clinical initiatives they’ll be starting to improve their ability to keep patients healthy, top priorities overall included mobile wellness monitoring, mentioned by 52.5 percent of respondents; aging well, 46.5 percent; and home monitoring devices, 45.5 percent.

To meet the new IT requirements for population health, respondents say organizations are reallocating resources to help achieve care coordination, mentioned as the biggest challenge by 23.5 percent of respondents. Other program challenges include making financial investments (21.4 percent), data management (18.4 percent), patient engagement and adherence (14.3 percent) and cohort identification and risk stratification (12.2 percent).

Respondents said they expect to refocus IT purchasing to fill in gaps and augment their IT portfolios. For example, half of respondents said they plan to use cloud-based technology in analytics; 41.9 percent said they are focused on managed application deployment, clinical data storage (39 percent) and health information exchanged, also mentioned by 39 percent of respondents.

In detailing the technology they’re buying to support pop health, respondents said 57.6 percent mentioned both health information exchange and telehealth systems , while 54.5 percent said they are working on analytics.

Nearly half of respondents reported that their organizations plans to implement home monitoring devices, aging well/elderly care or mobile wellness monitoring. Many patient care programs have a great need for IT solutions, as respondents report more planning of these programs than actual implementation.

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