Population health management is one of the fastest-growing segments in U.S. healthcare systems, with the majority of $8 billion in digital health investments during 2016 going to investments to support initiatives, a new report from Black Book Market Research finds.

However, the firm’s research found that 81 percent of providers are doing population projects “without a strategic technology purchase that meets all their needs,” says Douglas Brown, author of the report and a managing partner at Black Book.

In part, that is because more than 80 percent of 6,607 surveyed hospitals, physicians, other providers and payers have insufficient health information technology available to them.

Doug Brown

Also See: 5 rural hospitals hop on a university’s population health platform

To maximize benefits of population health, “it is imperative that providers and payers master the art of data capture,” Brown cautions. “Collecting continuous data on whole populations, from the sick to the healthy, will help fuel the immense data appetite for next-generation PHM solutions.”

Brown also had another warning: Next-generation pop health applications can’t be done with the lowest-cost vendors. “The new era of how providers get paid is going to impact the entire organization, and most hospitals aren’t remotely prepared for it.”

Also See: 10 strategies for successfully implementing pop health systems

Survey results also show a pronounced disconnect between how chief financial officers and chief information officers view the population health challenge.

Nearly 90 percent of surveyed CFOs believe their hospital has the appropriate amounts budgeted for population health transformation initiatives. By contrast, 80 percent of surveyed CIOs do not believe they have the IT or in-house staff to transform to population health as senior managers envision.

The report lists Allscripts, Cerner and Epic as the top core EHR/population health management vendors. It also lists six best-of-breed vendors and what Black Book considers to be the six top advisory firms.

A series of population health management reports from Black Book are available for purchase here.

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