In recent years, population health management (PHM) has become a key area of focus for healthcare organizations. Practices constantly look for ways to deliver proactive, effective interventions to support high-risk patients managing chronic conditions.
Now, healthcare practices are getting savvier and more strategic in their efforts to drive healthy outcomes for all patients, including the most socially vulnerable and chronically ill individuals. Enter precision population health (PPH), where precision medicine and population health meet. Could it be the next big thing in healthcare? Let’s discuss.
Defining Precision Population Health
According to Frontiers in Public Health, precision population health—sometimes referred to as precision public health—is defined as “the application and combination of new and existing technologies, which more precisely describe and analyze individuals and their environment over the life course, to tailor preventive interventions for at-risk groups and improve the overall health of the population.”
Multiple factors contribute to patient outcomes, from genetics and medical history to lifestyle and quality of care. Social determinants of health (SDOH)—conditions in the environments where people live, learn, work, and play—have a major impact on people’s health, well-being, and overall quality of life. SDOH are grouped into five categories, including:
- Economic stability
- Healthcare access and quality
- Education access and quality
- Social and community context
- Neighborhood and built environment
With so many variables to influence outcomes, it’s easy to understand why a one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t effective—especially for the highest-risk groups. However, investing in precision population health enables providers to deploy more personalized, population-level outreach, using data and technology to deliver the right interventions, to the right patients, at the right times to improve outcomes.
How Practices Can Embrace Precision Population Health
Using precision population health to identify optimal interventions for each population benefits patients, practices, and the health system as a whole in several ways, such as:
- Delivering better quality care
- Promoting health equity
- Addressing health disparities
- Reducing waste and inefficiencies
- Lowering the overall cost of care
It’s easy to see why healthcare practices are interested in launching precision population health initiatives—but determining how to get started can be daunting. Your healthcare practice can embrace precision population health by the following methods.
- Using Data to Identify the Right Patients for Interventions
To successfully manage very specific patient populations, you need to know which people will benefit most from meaningful, personalized outreach. Patients’ historical health data and post-visit summaries will help you identify which individuals need the most guidance between visits to stay engaged and make healthy lifestyle choices.
With that said, you can take this a step further by taking both clinical and social aspects into consideration when identifying which patients to reach out to. This way, you can begin reducing health disparities and promoting personalized, equitable care that’s tailored to each population’s unique needs.
- Leveraging Connected Health Devices to Monitor Patients
Healthcare organizations can also use connected health technology—such as wearables for remote monitoring—to help providers keep up with and guide patients with chronic conditions between visits. These connected devices are designed to collect patients’ health information, which can then be sent to providers for review in real time.
For example, a patient diagnosed with atrial fibrillation might wear a smartwatch that also serves as a wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor. This would allow the device to make readings on a regular basis, and then send the results to the patient’s cardiologist and/or PCP.
- Automating Patient Management With Engagement Technology
Once you have a solid understanding of who to reach out to, your practice can leverage patient engagement technology to automate precision population health efforts. By using automation to intervene via each patient’s preferred contact method, you can eliminate the need for manual outreach, streamlining your practice’s population health management and enabling more patient-centric care in the process.
A solution like InteliChart’s Patient Activate can help healthcare organizations deliver meaningful engagement to various populations based on a number of precise factors, including data in clinical records and each patient’s SDOH, or level of social vulnerability.
As a result, you can optimize your population health management and value-based care initiatives to make them much more efficient and effective, while also improving patient satisfaction and achieving healthier outcomes.