Population Health Management is the delivery of quality health care to the overall human population. The goal is to improve outcomes, the quality of life, and ultimately prolong life expectancy. The process is a journey, requiring a partnership between providers, payers and stakeholders across the care continuum and ongoing investment of time and resources.
The American Hospital Association (AMA) published a report on the three key elements for successful population health management listed as below:
- Information-powered clinical decision making: Focus on data to help make clinical decisions. Once this data is collected, health systems will need to use it to advance outcomes, improve quality and lower costs.
- Primary care-led clinical workforce: Technology should be used to support health care providers to deliver high quality care in a lower-cost manner.
- Patient engagement and community integration: Allocate resources to populations and communities in need to further their knowledge base and encourage them to engage in their own health care.
Providers should not limit care to those already in the health care system. Instead, providers must use the data and knowledge gained to also target at risk-communities and individuals in order to positively impact the overall population. It is critical to understand how to effectively reach and engage the areas and populations identified to be in need.
Enter the world of Virtual Care. In order to share information, treat those in need, educate the population – and manage resources in a cost-effective manner – all stakeholders need to be engaged, regardless of their various locations. Virtual care enhances care coordination across providers and specialists while also enabling patients to become more engaged in their own care by saving on travel time and expenses for all involved.
By using a virtual care communication platform, patients are able to securely video-chat with providers from their own home; additional providers (such as specialists and care coordinators) and caregivers (such as home health nurses and remote family members) can be included simultaneously. The platform can also be used to push information-only messages to patients / members with reminders for upcoming virtual visits as well as tips to better adhere to the medications required and lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) changes needed to keep patients on track with their self-care. To better engage the overall population, messaging needs to be in the preferred/primary language of each individual patient and also should be transmitted in the channel of their choice. Patient-driven planning will encourage continued engagement and improved compliance.
Using a virtual care platform can be a valuable tool in population health management and increasing overall positive outcomes across the care continuum.