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What Is Population Health Management

It’s easy to think about medical care from a narrow perspective. You go to the hospital or clinic for an issue that might be addressed with medication, a procedure, or another type of treatment. But some experts recognize there’s potential to create solutions that can improve outcomes for a larger group of people.

Given the rise in chronic conditions like heart disease and increasing health care costs, there’s clearly room for improvement. Many professionals in the health care industry believe population health management could be a good solution. The only problem is there seem to be competing ideas about what that term actually means.

So, what is population health management? We reached out to some experts to obtain a concrete understanding of this method and how it could work in practice. Get ready for a primer on this emerging solution.

WHAT IS POPULATION HEALTH MANAGEMENT, EXACTLY?

Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a consensus on the definition of this term, most experts agree on a pretty clear explanation. “Population health management is the proactive application of strategies and interventions to a defined group of individuals in order to improve the health of those in the group at the lowest cost,” offers health care executive Joe Welfeld.

Based on this definition, you can see that there are a few primary goals. The first is to yield a healthier population. The second is to reduce the overall cost of care. This should also help drive efficiency. It sounds simple enough, so you might wonder why you stumble across so many definitions that say something different. According to Todd DeWeese, Vice President of Population Health Management Consulting at Premier, a lot of this has to do with the sheer volume of companies trying to thrive in a competitive market.

“Population health gets confusing because it’s a name being used by a lot of vendors and service companies that want to work with or provide solutions to hospital systems, large physician groups, and insurance companies,” he says.

Some people have a tendency to confuse population health management with value-based care. They’re related, but actually quite different. The second term is a compensation model that pays providers based on successful outcomes rather than the number of services provided.

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