Information Exchange is Critical for Managing Population Health

Healthcare providers across the country are beginning to address population health through various means, including preventive health measures, post-discharge follow-up and education. To truly understand populations of patients, however, physician practices and even health systems will most likely need more data than they alone can collect. Gaining a complete picture of the health of a community's population requires access to data on as much of the population as possible — not just the percent of the population one health system or practice serves, according to Girish Kumar Navani, co-founder and CEO of eClinicalWorks.

Girish Navani is CEO of eClinicalWorks.Beyond the power of "one"
While electronic health records are powerful data-capturing tools, their full potential lies in their ability to exchange data with other EHRs, exponentially increasing providers' information about populations. "Population health is not specific to any single hospital, hospital system or practice. You need to build capabilities for the EHR to interact in ways that can send and receive data from some population hub, looking at information across practices," Mr. Navani says. "You need a bigger picture than a practice-centric EHR; you need to broaden the definition to become a population-centric tool."


Primary Care Information Project
Starting in 2007, New York City's Primary Care Information Project implemented eClinicalWorks EHRs in the practices of 3,200 physicians serving more than three million New York City residents. Sharing data from all EHRs gives the physicians insight into a significant population base. By compiling data on all 3,200 physicians' patients, the PCIP was able to increase the number of preventive care services its physicians provided by roughly 290 percent from 2008 to 2011, from 39 services per 100 patients to 113 services per 100 patients, according to a news release by the office of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

In addition, triggered by alerts from the EHRs, the physicians helped an additional 81,000 patients improve their management of diabetes, 96,000 patients control their high blood pressure and an additional 58,000 smokers quit.

"Population health is a geographic analysis of data, and it allows providers to send specific information for patients they're seeing today in the context of a much bigger scenario to make better decisions," Mr. Navani says. For instance, PCIP is able to analyze the distribution of obesity in relation to the location of fast food restaurants in New York City. "You couldn't do that with one patient or 10 patients. Population health is a much bigger problem. You need enough data to [get] a geographic distribution," he says.

More Articles on Population Health:

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4 Steps to Activating a Hospital's Big Data for Population Health Management

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