People want to be healthy, but healthcare options can be confusing, and without a strong relationship with their physicians and other providers, patients may ignore their problems instead of face the difficult path toward treatment and recovery.
Population health management (PHM) programs can help patients make the right choices. To make PHM programs effective, provider organizations need to stop looking at themselves solely as providers of medical services. They also need to look at themselves as facilitators, who not only provide care when needed, but who also get their patients involved in the management of their health.
Engage patients in a way that makes sense to them. “No two patients are the same. A good physician recognizes that all patients have their own concerns, needs, fears, expectations and hopes—with any condition, whether they’re healthy or ill,” said John Wilson, MD, vice president of product analytics at Optum.
For high-risk patients who may require chronic care, physicians and other healthcare professionals assigned to their cases must realize that people may understand instructions, but that doesn’t mean they will follow them. That’s where stratifying patients into high-, medium-, and low-risk pools can be valuable.
From there, care management organizations can readily identify and group common medical problems. At-risk interventions for diseases and disorders such as asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure and other chronic, high-cost conditions can be built into any program—a practice my colleagues and I at Optum encourage. Physician observation of individual patients is also an invaluable source for identifying high-risk populations.
We know high-risk patients need more than communication about their problems. That’s why strong physician engagement in care management programs—and their ongoing communication with their patients—can increase the engagement level of high-risk patients in their own treatment. When a patient sees their doctor cares, they are more likely to care too.
To read more about transparency’s role in PHM, download the white paper: “Managing Populations to Improve Individual Care: Best Practices for Physician-based Population Health Management.”