3 Reasons Why You Should Start Investing in Population Health Initiatives

It is no secret that healthcare is moving from a volume to a value-based system. Although the transition will likely be slow moving and bureaucratic, it isn’t something providers can ignore if they plan to thrive over time. Over the past few years the term “population health” has been used to describe the health of a specific population. The initiatives in place range across healthcare utilizers, young and old, high-risk and low-risk, while spanning the care continuum.

As regulations continue to change and incentives begin to align with value-based care, population health will become a larger part of providers’ healthcare strategy. Below we explore three reasons why you should start investing in your population sooner rather than later.

  1. Small investments now will have great return in the future
    We are already in the midst of one of the largest payment reforms in healthcare. While voluntary bundled payment programs have been running across the country, this past April began the first example of mandatory bundled payment programs from CMS. This surely isn’t the end of mandatory initiatives and hospitals nationwide will be thrust into a new incentive structure.Investing in population health initiatives now will give providers an opportunity to set up the right infrastructure before these changes occur. HIE’s, data gathering, and risk-analysis all provide the opportunity to better understand population health needs and traits associated with high-risk patients. Providers who start these initiatives now will be better qualified to prevent patients from becoming high-risk and understand the types of programs that can successfully improve the health of various patient populations, setting themselves up for success in the future.
  2. Start cashing in on payment incentives
    There are already a variety of payment incentives available to providers to start cashing in on. Many states offer programs such as DSRIP that encourage care coordination and innovation. Taking advantage of these offers enable providers to start trying new programs and identifying ways to improve outcomes for their entire population with little to no upfront investment.Additionally, population health initiatives will likely positively impact current CMS incentive programs such as VBP bonuses through HCAHPS increases and the HRRP (Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program). Starting simple population health programs such as patient outreach calls or texts can potentially provide your organization with additional revenue through an extra boost on current payment incentives. 
  3. Cultivate a loyal community
    Population health initiatives are not limited to what happens directly before, after, or during an inpatient stay. They can be a way to actively engage the community in programs that improve outcomes and cultivate a culture of support. This in turn helps keep patient loyal to the hospital, an important thing to consider as transparency and consumerism in healthcare become more prominent.

Population health is going to be a topic of conversation for the forseeable future. It is a large part of value-based payments and over time will be a conerstone to provider success. Even small investments now will have a great impact on the future, and providers that start thinking about their goals now will be well-prepared as payment incentives change.

For information on how we can help you get started on your population health initiatives, contact us today.

Elizabeth Lagone, MPH, is the Vice President of Government Programs at CipherHealth. Prior to her current role at CipherHealth, Lagone served as the Primary Care Strategy and Improvement Director for DSRIP Initiatives at One City Health, a subsidiary of NYC Health + Hospitals focused on population health, care management, and implementation of the state’s DSRIP program.

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