Population health management or PHM seeks to improve the health outcomes of groups of individuals while lowering costs and reducing health service inequalities between those different populations. This shift in patient health management focuses on the social, cultural, environmental, and physical factors which contribute to the patient’s lifetime health influences and the subsequent health effects on a population.
The key components to population health outcomes promote a healthcare management system that combines the accumulated knowledge of your health care service team, the optimization of its organizational structure, and the application of treatments based on sound medical practices for entire populations of patients. The result for patients is a greater ability to adapt to and control life’s changes and challenges, while experiencing a greater level of total well-being, as opposed to a primary focus on ‘freedom from disease’.
Successfully Treating Patient Populations
Population health strategies seek to identify community issues and the range of health needs within that population. By identifying the greatest health needs within a population, medical facilities can adequately respond by providing the right physicians, offer appropriate wellness programs and education, and instigate early diagnosis, treatment, and management programs to increase the health outcomes of entire neighborhoods.
A recent Daily Herald report chronicled how a Tennessee medical network studied Maury County residents to determine the area’s wellness and to find ways to improve the health outcomes as represented by patient vital signs. The study found obesity, stroke, heart disease, cancer (particularly colorectal and lung cancers), and teen birth rates as the predominant health issues of the community.
From a population health management perspective, strategic medical system planning to address these health needs and a community relationship to educate the population on risk reduction and early detection – are the goals of PHM.
Key Components To Population Health Outcomes
- Attaining quality patient health outcomes that not only successfully treat the patient’s health condition but also includes patient involvement in making healthcare decisions. Patient participation is an influencing factor in quality health care. Decisions that empower the patient will close the gap between the patient-doctor relationship while valuing the patient’s beliefs and life experience.
- An improved patient experience outcome aims to improve patient perceptions, which has been documented as a barrier to delivering quality health care. If patients are confused about medical terminology and treatment options, often the need for multiple physicians to assist in further diagnosis is often considered a time-consuming hindrance. When the patient plays a significant role in their medical care experience, they become empowered to make the lifestyle changes that are a necessary part of disease prevention and control.
- Reducing waste and time of inpatient stays can influence the third component to population health component – cost outcomes. Regulating costs for both the medical profession and the patient can be accomplished through analyzing patient and clinic data. When patterns between the cause of illness or disease can be linked to lifestyle connections, patient patterns can be broken and efficient systems of early diagnosis and treatment delivery can be established. These streamlined efforts help to reduce wasted time and resources
Population health management is an innovative platform to empower populations and individuals and promote improved health outcomes. It also offers the medical community an opportunity to balance quality and cost challenges, while patients have a comprehensive way to manage chronic illnesses. Efficient management of a diabetes population or teen pregnancy crisis results in a targeted and prioritized health system response.
As the patient’s medical community adopts PHM best practices, they can expect improved methods of diagnosis and treatment; treatment which aims to limit cost overruns, improve the patient experience, and offer a higher quality of health care.