- Over the next five years, the population health management technology market is predicted to grow into a $42.54 billion opportunity, according to a Research and Markets report, but healthcare providers will need to adopt new care strategies at a similarly rapid pace if they are to make the best possible use of newly available data analytics tools.
As regulatory programs like MACRA and meaningful use, an aging population, and an increasingly complex chronic disease population continue to challenge the status quo of patient care, providers will need to focus on leveraging population health IT tools to optimize coordinated care delivery.
They must also learn how to meet patient expectations in regards to data sharing and access, which appear to be far higher than what the healthcare system can currently deliver.
A recent poll by Transcend Insights found that close to three-quarters of patients believe their primary care providers can already easily share and access data about their medical histories and use that information to influence decision-making.
“As an industry, the time has come to move beyond viewing interoperability as a philosophical challenge or a problem that we’ll eventually get our arms around,” said Thomas J. Van Gilder, MD, JD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Informatics and Analytics at Transcend Insights.
“This survey shows us that patients see strong information sharing as an essential element of high-quality care. It’s time that we live up to those expectations by giving care providers and health care systems the tools they need to stay connected around patient care.”
But fewer providers feel quite as confident in their ability to leverage data for individual or population-level care. Even accountable care organizations (ACOs), which rely on data-driven population health management to meet quality metrics and risk-based reimbursement benchmarks, are still having trouble with the IT side of patient care.
An October 2016 survey from the Premier Research Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 79 percent of ACOs experience difficulties with coordinating care across organizations, and 74 percent blame health record interoperability challenges for the data access barriers that prevent seamless population health management.
Health data interoperability is one of the fundamental requirements for meaningful population health management, since providers must have access to large pools of patient data in order to perform accurate risk stratification, track individuals across multiple organizations, and ensure that every member of the care team has access to the most up-to-date records.
The growing appetite for health IT tools to break through data siloes and create information pathways between disparate organizations indicates that providers are well aware that there is a great deal more work to do, both on the technical side and with their care strategies.
Research and Markets projects that the population health management technology market, currently sitting at $13.85 billion, will see a 25 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years as healthcare organizations turn their attention to the IT underpinnings of their coordinated care strategies.
Some familiar names largely associated with EHR tools will be leading this process, the report says, including Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, and McKesson. These companies are rapidly expanding their health IT lineups to include interoperability and population health tools that complement their core offerings, allowing customers to develop integrated infrastructure to support their needs.
Other vendors with a narrower focus on population health management are also likely to benefit from the rapid uptake of care coordination and data exchange tools. The report also taps Conifer Health, Health Catalyst, i2i Population Health, Optum, Verscend Technologies, and Wellcentive as leaders in the field.
Research and Markets isn’t the only one to identify many of these companies as best bets for investment. Earlier this year, Black Book Market Research and KLAS Rankings also recognized a similar series of population health product vendors as top choices for the provider community, while highlighting the role of data access and interoperability in delivering value to providers.
“In order to maximize the value and benefits of a PHM solution, it is imperative that providers and payers master the art of data capture,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book. “Collecting continuous data on whole populations, from the sick to the healthy, will help fuel the immense data appetite for next-generation PHM solutions.”
“As payment models continue to shift toward value and payers and providers assume greater risk, they will need tools to help improve collaboration and communication as they work to meet the Triple Aim (improve patient satisfaction and care quality while reducing unnecessary cost).”
Healthcare organizations will need to marry these new technologies with innovative approaches to patient care, since data on its own is useless unless clinicians leverage it effectively to improve outcomes.
Building a strong, multi-stakeholder population health team anchored by executive support will be a critical first step for organizations hoping to retool their processes, while developing a robust and detailed data governance strategy will allow providers to ensure that the data they collect, share, and use is of the highest possible quality.
As providers work to create organizational roadmaps that include specific population health pilots and use cases, they will be able to more effectively engage with the health IT tools that allow clinicians to foster meaningful relationships with patients, harness analytics for decision-making, and improve overall outcomes for patients with chronic diseases and complex needs.