While population health management initiatives are becoming more popular, many healthcare organizations are undertaking these efforts on their own without a population health vendor-provided IT solution, according to HIMSS Analytics.
In a survey of nearly 200 healthcare executives, 67 percent of surveyed organizations claim to have a population health program in place, but only 25 percent of those respondents currently utilize a vendor provided solution to address their needs.
“That’s one the biggest surprises that we found,” says Brendan FitzGerald, research director at HIMSS Analytics. “To be clear: it’s not that they’re not using solutions from IT vendors. It’s really that they’re not using specific solutions from population health vendors.”
FitzGerald observes that healthcare organizations have gone through a “huge binge” of IT adoption in the last few years, including electronic health record systems and clinical decision support implementations. And, as a result, most organizations are leveraging internal systems and resources such as EHRs to address their initial population health needs.
“They’re slowly dipping their toe into the pool of population health, but they’re not necessarily committing a lot of financial resources to it at this time,” asserts FitzGerald, who adds that “they’re making do with what they have currently.”
Most healthcare organizations surveyed have focused their population health efforts on chronic disease management (83 percent) and wellness/preventive health (82 percent). Yet, 60 percent of those organizations do not use a consultant for any of their population health initiatives; a mere 11 percent of respondents with initiatives in place currently use a consultant for their population health strategy.
The good news, according to FitzGerald, is that more than half of those surveyed without current population health initiatives in place plan to employ initiatives in the future, and about a third of organizations with plans to employ population health initiatives in the future plan to use a consultant or would consider it.
“Population health is a work in progress,” concludes FitzGerald, who believes that consultants can be valuable in mapping out a strategy and providing direction in terms of best practices. “Healthcare organizations will have to step up their game eventually, but it will be on their own timeline and not somebody else’s.”
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