Survey: Most healthcare providers recognize importance of population health, but only 17% 'very ready' to take on risk

Healthcare providers remain committed to population health management but expect a slower pace of change under President Donald Trump, according to a study released Tuesday by Numerof & Associates.

"Numerof's second annual survey finds healthcare providers see population health as critical to future success and an opportunity to improve clinical costs, quality and outcomes. However, this essential business model change is difficult — even harder than many executives thought a year ago — and there's additional risk if the new administration moves away from value-based care initiatives," Rita Numerof, PhD, president of Numerof & Associates, said in a news release.

For the study, researchers surveyed more than 500 executives and key decision makers across U.S. healthcare delivery organizations.Respondents included C-suite executives in urban, suburban and rural areas nationwide. These individuals represented various delivery organizations, including standalone facilities, small systems and integrated delivery networks; for-profit, nonprofit and government institutions; and academic and community facilities.

Here are seven survey findings.

1. Numerof & Associates said 95 percent of survey respondents rated population health between "moderately" and "critically" important for future success, with 43 percent calling it "critically important."

2. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents indicated their organization has a designated division, department or institute for population health programs. Additionally, 64 percent of survey respondents said their organization has a formal process for working with physicians who are outliers on cost or quality, and 53 percent of survey respondents said physician payment is based, at least in part, on the ability to manage variation.

3. The survey found that more than 75 percent of healthcare providers were in at least one agreement with a payer that included upside gain and/or downside risk. However, the exposure to risk is nominal, with the majority of respondents saying 10 percent or less of their current revenue was in risk-based agreements, Numerof & Associates said. Only one in 10 survey respondents said at least 40 percent of their organization's revenue flowed through risk-based agreements.

4. Survey respondents projected 21 to 40 percent of their revenue will flow through alternative models within two years, down from 41 to 60 percent in the 2015 survey, according to Numerof & Associates.

5. Only 17 percent of survey respondents said their organization is "very prepared" to take on risk today, Numerof & Associates said.

6. The survey found that 43 percent of respondents still view their organization's ability to manage variation in quality at the physician level as "average" or worse.

7. Survey respondents reported that payer enthusiasm for entering into risk-sharing agreements has declined. Numerof & Associates said payers on the other hand often express reluctance to partner with providers that appear to lack the organizational competencies needed for successful population health initiatives.


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