Healthcare leaders frequently use the term “population health management,” despite persistent confusion about what it means and how it is applied.
Here we offer the basics of population health management and what it means for your behavioral health practice.
What is population health management?
Despite its widespread use, many experts disagree on the precise definition of “population health.” Generally speaking, population health means exactly what it sounds like: the health needs and concerns within a specific population of people.
In the American Journal of Public Health in 2003, Dr. David Kindig and Dr. Greg Stoddart suggested that population health be defined as, “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”
For population health management, then, providers and payers can incorporate patient data with health IT solutions. This will help them track health trends and determine the best strategies for patients within that population. This, in turn, can also improve both clinical and financial outcomes for providers.
Why is population health management important?
As payers and other healthcare decision-makers increasingly focus on value-based care, and thus patient outcomes, population health management becomes a greater concern. Regardless of how experts specifically define the term, the main idea of population health is to focus on outcomes.
Based on the 11th Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium in Philadelphia, the journal Population Health Management in 2011 listed three main goals of population health management as:
Maintaining patient health
Reducing patient health risks
Providing or coordinating appropriate patient care
The first two goals focus on prevention, an important factor in value-based care. The third goal involves care management. For behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, this usually includes improvements to patient self-management and medication management, as well as reductions to the cost of care.
What do behavioral health providers need for population health management?
A successful population health management program usually calls for a software solution that lets behavioral health practices collect and analyze data to establish a full picture of each patient. Ideally, providers then use this data to track and improve clinical outcomes and lower costs.
Behavioral health population health management should use both clinical and business solutions to make the practice more efficient as it improves patient care. Clinicians and administrators both should be able to obtain real-time insights to identify care gaps within the patient population. This helps them maintain a successful population health management program that leads to better outcomes and cost savings.
The right EHR can help your population health management.
For behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, patient populations tend to have complex needs with concurrent conditions. Behavioral-health patient populations often struggle with chronic pain and other disease, substance abuse, and mental-health disorders like depression. This creates additional challenges for providers focused on population health management.
To be successful, your population health management program should include an electronic health record (EHR) solution tailored for your practice’s specific needs. BestNotes EHR is designed specifically for behavioral health and addiction providers, with important features such as medication management, progress notes, lab ordering and tracking, and treatment plan reviews.
Contact BestNotes today to learn more about how we can help your population health management plan succeed.