Trends that will impact how the healthcare industry approaches population health management

As we begin 2017, it is a good time to take a look at trends that are likely to have significant impact on how the healthcare industry approaches population health management.

At CareSkore, we talk to a broad range of players in this space, including hospitals, practices, IT solution providers, analysts, media, and payers. Distilled from all of that market intelligence, I see 6 main drivers of change centered on speed, intelligence, and efficiency.

Trend #1: Leveraging Real-Time Analytics with Big Data
A patient comes in for care. She's seen by multiple professionals during her visit, all of whom are looking at streamed data and analytics for her that can be minutes, hours, or even days old. With stale data being the only basis for current care decisions, the chance of costly and/or risky mistakes can be significant.

Demand for real-time insights (sourced from complex underlying data), and analytics will continue to increase at a torrid pace, forcing IT to respond. This will drive greater innovation in areas like population health management and EHR systems to meet this growing requirement.

Real-time data and analytics will also be key for effective patient engagement. With more emphasis on automation and self-service by providers and patients, engagement systems will need real-time insights to deliver appropriate levels of service across constituencies.

Result: Nimble organizations embracing infrastructure innovation will enable real-time intelligence that dramatically reduces risk, improves quality of care, and controls cost.

Trend #2: Expansion of Predictive Analytics
Understanding what has happened in the past can provide perspective on where things are today but is not consistently accurate at predicting future events. Doing so with accuracy leads to lower risk and enables delivery of greater care. But getting predictions right is hard, and many just try to extrapolate the past to the future, a haphazard method at best.
Care providers are beginning to realize the huge potential offered by real-time predictive analytics for decision support, from avoiding readmissions to reducing patient medical and financial risk, to improving quality of care. While there is no shortage of data available to care providers through their business intelligence, financial, and EHR/clinical systems, processing that data and producing insights and accurate predictions is something very few have the time or confidence to undertake.

As IT innovators bring more effective, intuitive, and integrated predictive platforms to market, advanced analytics will begin to really take hold among providers.

Result: Organizations will have the opportunity to better understand their populations and manage them for more effective care, lower risk, and improved financial performance.

Trend #3: Depth in Artificial Intelligence, Leading to Automation of Workflows
A key advance in patient engagement leverages artificial intelligence for automated interaction to increase the frequency of patient contact without allocating more human resources. Automated email scripting, texting, and even telephone interaction, along with dispatch of car services to keep appointments, help involve patients more in their care and reduce risky behaviors like missed doctor visits or medication schedules.

Such AI systems must be comprehensive, robust, and easily managed by providers. By covering the entire continuum of care, these systems can cut unnecessary readmissions and reduce excessive durations of stay.

Result: AI systems will help providers have deeper engagement with patients to guide them toward more informed self-care and reduce their unnecessary consumptions of services.

Trend #4: Embracing Lean Operations to Enable Efficient Care and Cost Reduction
Hospital and other providers will strengthen their focus on cost reduction and revamping inefficient practices and workflows. One key area of improvement will be leveraging real-time insights to reduce and better manage patient length of stay and emergency department wait times and flows.

Patient length of stay is a key metric that indicates both the quality and efficiency of services but also payer reimbursement rates for value-based care. Benchmarks for standard, diagnosis-based length of stays will be more heavily incorporated into evaluating efficiencies and effectiveness of high-level flows. This will help providers better understand where they need to focus to improve quality and appropriateness of care to reduce patient length of stay.

Optimizing length of stays and improving efficiencies will also improve patient satisfaction scores, which are becoming more and more publicly reported. Patients are becoming more demanding about better customer service as expectations rise based on non-healthcare service providers (e.g., banking).

Result: As real-time data provides more insights into provider operations, innovative information systems will allow for optimizing flows and improving customer satisfaction.

Trend #5: Connecting with The Internet of Things (IoT)
Wearables and connectedness have become ubiquitous, with the FTC estimating that there will be over 50 billion connected devices by 2020. That number will be increasingly comprised of care-related devices that monitor patient health. Home monitors, ingestibles, and wearables will be important sources of data to help providers manage population health.

While providers continue to have privacy concerns, according to HealthIT Analytics, "With up to $7 trillion on the line for organizations that can deliver, generate, and leverage actionable insights into the clinical workflow, investing quickly in the IoT and IoE may help providers gain a competitive edge in a lucrative marketplace." This competitive edge would come from both financial efficiencies like reduced readmission rates and more effective care plans, and from improved customer satisfaction through close engagement.

Result: Providers will likely begin to turn to more IoT-based solutions to provide ongoing data on patients, improve quality and appropriateness of care, and deliver closer patient engagement.

Trend #6: Tightened Coordination of Care Across Provider Participants to Drive Quality and Patient Engagement
When physicians, hospitals, and post-discharge care providers operate in silos, patient care suffers. In the best case, different participants in the continuum of care must make assumptions about what drove decisions earlier in the care flow and base actions on those assumptions. Worst case, they have limited to no view into what care a patient has already received and must make blind choices.

This creates tremendous financial and performance risk for all players in the continuum of care. The only solution to address this risk is to tightly coordinate care among all provider participants. Providers will look to leverage care coordination systems that ensure that all participants understand care provided to a patient is appropriate and consistent. The ability of any individual in this care continuum to see actions of all other professionals for a specific patient will avoid care conflicts, minimize risk of patients hearing contradictory information, and streamline care plans.

Result: As providers embrace platforms for coordinating care of individual patients, they will boost quality of care, realize efficiencies, avoid treatment conflicts, and improve patient engagement

Bio: Jaspinder Grewal is the current CEO of CareSkore (www.CareSkore.com). He is a young entrepreneur and we just raised $4.3 million. Joe Montana, the ex QB is an investor in CareSkore.

Mr. Grewal a computer engineer and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He has 13 years of experience working with large health systems, managing technology, and operations.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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