- As value-based reimbursement initiatives continue to ramp up, healthcare providers are likely to accelerate their investment in population health management tools and technologies, driving the marketplace to double in size by the end of the date.
According to a report by research firm Tractica, the population health management market is slated to grow from $14 billion in 2015 to $31.9 billion by 2020 as patient management, predictive analytics, and risk stratification services and technologies become integral to the provision of patient care.
“As the healthcare system, particularly in the United States, transitions from one based on fee-for-service and volume of patients served, to one based on value, improvements in patient health, and associated decreases in healthcare costs, more organizations will deploy population health management or expand their existing population health management programs,” says principal analyst Charul Vyas.
While many providers are currently working to build their in-house infrastructure to tackle the challenges of chronic disease management, pre-emptive risk identification, and the delivery of preventative care, software sales will only make up a third of the market’s growth, the report says.
Professional services are likely to comprise the lion’s share of the sector’s expansion. Care coordinators and case managers play an important role in the day-to-day management of patients, including placing reminder phone calls, answering questions, ensuring the delivery of community resources, and aiding patients with setting and keeping appointments.
These services may originate from a primary care provider or a payer, both of whom are becoming heavily invested in opportunities to reduce unnecessary utilization, prevent hospitalizations, and improve patient outcomes.
Population health management efforts appear to be making an impact on Type 2 diabetes, one of the most significant problems facing patients today. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that new cases of diabetes are on the decline, which may be due to the concerted efforts of healthcare providers to urge their patients towards healthier lifestyle choices.
According to the CDC, the diabetes epidemic may have hit its peak in 2009, when 1.7 million new patients were diagnosed with the disease. By 2014, that number had dropped to 1.5 million new cases a year.
Both large-scale educational efforts from national organizations like the American Medical Association and smaller initiatives, like a $4.4 million obesity research grant awarded this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, are coming together to make population health management strategies increasingly effective.
"Our overall goal is not only to predict the risk of obesity but also to improve diagnosis and therapies for coronary heart disease, endometrial cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other debilitating medical conditions associated with obesity," said Marylyn Ritchie, a Penn State researcher and director of biomedical and translational informatics at Geisinger Health System.
Geisinger will partner with Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania to use big data analytics and genomics to delve into the root causes of obesity and associated diseases.
Data-driven population health management strategies are making a big dent in healthcare organizations’ technology budgets. An October study from the eHealth Initiative found that big data analytics tools focused on population health are in high use and higher demand.
More than two-thirds of providers use their EHRs for patient management, while sixty-two percent use a separate analytics package for gaining valuable insights. More than forty percent of participating providers use dedicated care management software to complement their other health IT tools.
As participation in value-based reimbursement programs increases and providers shoulder more financial risk related to patient outcomes, population health management tools and services will continue to present opportunities for growth and investment.
The technologies and strategies required to provide coordinated care and effective chronic disease management will keep vendors and providers focused on developing new approaches to keeping patients healthier for longer.