COPD offers chance for population health success.

#5in5_Blog_BannerHealth care systems know that their patients are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. They also know the expense of treating it.

They may not know that COPD offers an opportunity to make an immediate impact in patients’ lives and drive down costs while learning population health management skills.

Statistics surrounding COPD are daunting. The COPD Foundation says the incurable condition is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

Government agencies — like the Centers for Disease Control and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — put the annual cost for COPD in the tens of billions of dollars.

The condition is also a major cause of costly readmissions. A 2014 study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society found one in 11 COPD patients was readmitted within 30 days of discharge.

Despite all of this — physicians do have tools to protect patients’ quality of life and combat costs. That makes COPD a great candidate for predictive modeling.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains the condition can be treated — and complications avoided — with medications, therapies like supplemental oxygen, and lifestyle changes like tobacco cessation, exercise and nutrition.

To provide these interventions, health systems need to find patients in need of support. Analytics can help.

The Optum playbook Maximize the value of your COPD population health programs with advanced analytics outlines the steps.

  1. Analyze your patient population.
    Advanced analytics allow health systems to use claims and clinical data to identify patients who aren’t seeing a physician regularly or whose health metrics are outside acceptable limits.
  1. Predict the future: Are your patients at risk of being hospitalized?
    Advanced analytics enable organizations to collect and evaluate data on diagnostic factors — like comorbidities and complications — that can signal an increased risk of a hospital admission.
  1. Stratify patients by risk to more effectively coordinate care.
    Knowing not only which patients are at risk, but which ones are mostat risk can allow organizations to prioritize outreach. The goal is to reduce cost and improve outcomes, even with limited resources.

With the addition of COPD to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Readmission Reduction Program, these capabilities are no longer simply nice to have. They are a must-do if health systems want to avoid penalties and successfully manage risk under value-base care contracts.

Wisconsin-based Aurora Health Care has used analytics to tackle challenges facing treatment of COPD patients. Discover what Aurora has learned in a #5in5 interview.  Sylvia Meltzer, chief medical officer of population health and risk, answers five questions in five minutes.

About the author

Karen Thomas-SmithKaren Thomas-Smith is vice president of Provider Marketing & Reference Management at Optum. She brings to the role more than 15 years of global experience in the software industry. Karen has shared her unique ideas on corporate culture and leadership in a number of television appearances on Oprah, 60 Minutes and Canada Public Television. Prior to her position at Optum, Karen spent time at Allscripts and SAS.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

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