Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

3 Population Health Management Strategies to Cut Health Costs

Among the many clinical benefits of population health management, the care approach also has financial benefits that cut health costs.

By Sara Heath

As the healthcare industry continues to grapple with exceptionally high costs, providers are increasingly turning to population health management strategies to try to alleviate some financial pressure.

population health management

Population health management has many benefits for patient health, and the right methods can also produce a positive impact on spending.

Here are three innovative and effective  population health strategies to help cut hospital spending.

Team-based care coordination

A team-oriented approach to care is an important part of care management. By ensuring that all members of the care team are in constant communication, providers can ensure that patients receive seamless care without redundant testing or other repeated procedures.

Healthcare organizations that successfully practice care coordination tend to see lower hospital spending, like in the case of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

In a report last year, researchers showed that care coordination amongst behavioral and mental health patients with delirium, alcohol withdrawal, and suicide harm (DASH) resulted in a nine percent decrease in preventable 30-day hospital readmissions, cutting costs overall.

Facilities that lack care coordination are seeing increases in costs, too. In a study published in the middle of last year, researchers found that poor care coordination can result in a $4,500 cost increase over three years for chronic disease management.

“The US healthcare system suffers from high costs that do not yield commensurately high levels of quality,” write the researchers from Brigham Young University, Boston University, and the Harvard School of Public Health. “Although there are many competing explanations for this inefficiency, one area of relatively broad consensus is care fragmentation.”

Preventing medication nonadherence

The headway made during a care encounter can often be reversed when a patient doesn’t follow through with their care plan, and can in the long-run be very expensive. In fact, medication nonadherence brings about $8 million a year in avoidable costs per 100,000 lives to employers paying for health insurance.

Researchers have found that the best way to avoid medication nonadherence is to make getting medications easier and to engage with patients while doing so.

Home delivery meds have proven to be a potential solution for this issue, as indicated in recent research using data from Kaiser Permanente. Researchers found that patients picking up prescriptions from traditional pharmacies were adherence only 47 percent of the time, while those receiving medication packages delivered to their homes were adherent 74 percent of the time.

Targeting which patients might need medication nonadherence solutions is also getting easier. In a paper published in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), researchers found that pharmacy records and EHR data are helping experts track medication nonadherence and identify those less likely to take their medications.

Performing follow-up care

Quality treatment at the point of care is an important population health strategy that cuts costs, but the job isn’t finished when patients walk out the door. Providers need to perform follow-up care to ensure that a patient’s health is being maintained outside of the office.

Performing follow-up care fits into the overall goal to reduce hospital readmissions. By connecting patients to their portals, keeping track of health through remote patient monitoring, or by simply sending an email message to a patient reminding them of a certain aspect of their home care, providers are able to help patients maintain their health from afar.

In turn, this maintenance may prevent the patient from suffering an adverse event that requires hospitalization, helping the patient and the hospital keep costs down.

As a part of healthcare’s Triple Aim goals, providers need to be thinking about cost reduction and how they can do that in the office. Through adequate population health and chronic disease management, healthcare professionals can work to keep their patients healthy at all points of care, from inside the doctor’s office to inside their own homes.

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