Key thoughts for hospitals on the best strategies for population health: Q&A With CareSkore CEO Jas Grewal

Jas Grewal, CEO of CareSkore, discusses how population health initiatives are evolving and what the most successful hospitals are preparing for in the future.

Q: How are hospitals approaching population health today? What types of initiatives are most pertinent?

Jas Grewal: The efforts that hospitals have in place really depend on the kind of institution, some have a robust strategy in place, others are starting the journey. It is loud and clear is that given the change from fee-for- service to value-based care, healthier population and giving meaningful care, not just more care is going to become a much larger focus.

Hospitals/providers are putting in place different kinds of risk stratification tools to better understand at-risk patient populations. These solutions, like CareSkore, access patient risk both clinically and financially. They paint a comprehensive picture of patients that are high utilization and need additional resources, but also clearly show the financial impact of not managing the at-risk population.

Predicting future risks is also very important. After all, you cannot manage what you can’t measure. The best and leading solutions are discussing engaging patients through highly personalized communication, based on patient’s predicted risks. We believe that patients that will be more engaged will be healthier, and this initiative to engage them has to be provider-led. Patients are most likely to listen and actively engage with the doctor or nurse they see in the hospital. The issue is due to lack of time and resources, this does not happen as often as one would expect.

Q: How is technology evolving to meet the needs of population health? What are the best programs using to make sure their initiatives are efficient and effective?

JG: With analytics platforms and other technology factors, like cheap storage, faster processing, we are able to tackle issues that were limited access in past. Not only historical analysis, but also predictive analytics and offsetting future risks is going to be very key.

Once you have an understanding of what your patient population looks like, putting in place the right patient engagement strategies, is going to be key. Whether it is personalized and automated patient reach out to remind on appointments, or clinical follow up, the technology would need to provide for the lack of time and resources providers have. But, the best solutions understand that pop health has to be led by the clinicians, and see higher patient engagement rates.

The best programs are the ones that clearly show that they can improve both clinical and financial outcomes. At careskore, we use the last 12 months as a control period, and show ongoing improvement on a quarterly basis. Whether we are tracking at risk patients or patient engagements, we typically see an improvement in clinical metrics and star rating for hospitals.

Q: How can hospitals track their results and show benefit to their community?

JG: There is more public data on hospitals than ever before, including hospital report cards, hospital compare and private rating systems. The hospitals that put a strong strategy in place will show up eventually in these public sources. Recognizing and managing this is very important, these are playing a more and more critical role in consumer choice.

To show benefit to community, hospitals should report on the key metrics or areas of high impact they decide on, whether it is readmission rates or infection rates, or management of behavioral health patients. Once established, they should show a positive tracking curve towards better outcomes for these patient populations

Q: Where do you see population health heading in the future?

JG: First, with an increasing number of patients moving from fee-for-service to value based care, the need for managing overall health of populations is going to increase.

Second, with higher patient copays, and more transparency on quality, the patients will behave more like typical consumers in other markets. When we do a $500 purchase online, we look for options, reviews and all kinds of information for our decision. This is going to unfold in healthcare. Patients are already engaging at a higher rate with their physician, and want to be better informed. In this era of awareness, engaging and providing high levels of service to patients is going to be key.

Third, driven by financial incentives in line with better quality care, we will see reduction in wasteful care and utilization, and better clinical outcomes for an increasing subset of patients.

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