Providers play important role in encouraging patients to manage their health

In my last post, I talked about how predictive analytics are helping health care providers identify and stratify patients by risk.

Now that you know who your highest risk patients are, you need to find ways to proactively engage them in the management of their health. If you’re just starting your population health management (PHM) program, look for low-risk, high reward strategies.

Billy Beane—the Oakland A’s general manager and the “hero” of Moneyball—is constantly managing the talent and finances of the Oakland A’s. His pattern has been to draft good pitching, ride the pitchers until they qualify for free agency, then trade them away for good young pitching talent and veteran power hitters who, for whatever reason, may not be living up to their potential. In this way, he keeps the A’s stocked with good pitching and power hitting at bargain prices—a low-risk, high-reward method.

Outreach to high-risk patients could be considered a low-risk, high-reward strategy. Especially in value-based care structures, provider organizations are more than just providers of medical services. They’re also facilitators who help get their patients involved in theJeremy Orr, MD, MPH management of their health. And no one needs it more than high-risk patients.

For high-risk patients, this might involve outreach by physicians, nurse practitioners and other clinicians, care managers, as well as services, portals and tools that support secure messaging, personal health management tools and social media. Emerging solutions include personal health management tools that provide interactive solutions to support consumers in managing their health and conditions. This can include health tools that can help track exercise, diet and medication routines.

Medium-to-low-risk patients also need to be engaged, using some of the same communication elements. An important consideration in any program is to try to keep low- and medium-risk patients from becoming high-risk patients. The keys, again, are data and a cost-effective set of interventions that put the data to use.

Organizations that are new to high-level analytics will have to deal with a learning curve. You’re not going to get it right all the time. But failures can be springboards to success. If your organization is willing to learn as it goes, it will have a head start on its journey from simply providing care to truly managing health.

For more on how to use analytics to provider higher-quality, lower-cost health care, download this Optum eBook, “Moneyball Analytics: Connecting and leveraging the best data across the health care continuum”

–Jeremy Orr, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Optum Analytics

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