7 things to know about the state of population health and the gaps in progress

A national study released Tuesday provides one of the first looks at the pace of transition from fee-for-service to population health and value-based models of care. The study was conducted by healthcare strategy consultant Numerof & Associates.

The study includes survey responses from more than 300 healthcare executives and in-depth interviews with more than 100 key healthcare delivery decision-makers across the country. Here are seven highlights derived from the study:

1. More than half (54 percent) of the respondents rated population health as "critically important" to the future success of their organization and nearly all respondents (97 percent) said it was more than "somewhat important."

2. Of the organizations in agreements with upside gain or downside risk, a majority said that 20 percent or less of their revenues flow through those agreements.

3. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said their organization's ability to manage variation in cost at the physician level rated as "average" or worse.

4. Fifty-eight percent of respondents characterized payers as more than "somewhat willing" to enter into cost or quality risk agreements.

5. Organizations in New England were more likely to say they were in an agreement with the potential for both upside gain and downside risk than organizations in the South, at 69 percent versus 43 percent, respectively.

6. Many of the providers that are moving forward with population health are doing so for mission-driven or organizational culture reasons, saying "it's the right thing to do."

7. Organizations with a focused approach and clear leadership accountability were further along with the transition to population health than providers that lacked these elements.

"U.S. healthcare organizations are entering a period of greater change and disruption than any industry this side of taxicabs," said Numerof & Associates President Rita Numerof, PhD. "However, our study finds that most providers are still just testing the waters with these models and to date there's still far more talk than action when it comes to population health management."



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