Ever since the HITECH Act passed several years ago, there has been a clear objective to improve population health standards, and health IT has been at the center of these goals. Not only are experts trying to find out the best ways to share data, but they are also determining how IT innovations like electronic health records can better serve patient populations.
There are several reasons the U.S. is making population health a priority. For one, it has the potential to reduce care costs. Predictive analytics can make it easier for physicians to prevent disease and avoid expensive treatments. Additionally, population health could improve care quality and clinical end results – creating a much more solvent, effective and expedient nationwide health system. Many stakeholders also believe that IT tools will work toward encouraging patients to become more engaged with their well-being.
"Predictive analytics make it easier to prevent disease."
Congress shows interest in making population health work
However, how do health experts, doctors, organizations, legislative bodies and patients accomplish this? For one, Congress has indicated that it is interested in patient data sharing and interoperable EHRs, according to Healthcare IT News, as it has asked the Office of the National Coordinator to report efforts made toward interoperability and data sharing. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office will also be expected to inform legislators about health information exchange. More recently, Congress has shown interest in the 21st Century Cures, which is a plan to help bills and laws keep the U.S. competitive worldwide when it comes to health IT innovation.
Organizations make a push for advanced EHRs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful use program recently outlined the guidelines for stage 3, which aims at making EHRs much more technologically advanced. There is also a focus on making EHRs more efficient for specialty doctors, which is where innovations like Intelligent Medical Software templates can help. A focused EHR platform that addresses specific conditions and treatments not only helps patients, but it can also present more detailed data for reporting purposes.
Additionally, at the end of January, the Department of Health and Human Services released its Interoperability Roadmap, an expansive 10-year plan for optimizing the entire healthcare system with IT, including efforts in population health. All of these efforts stem from the fact that many Americans are suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Research shows population health can work
There are also several studies showing how EHRs can help push interoperability and population health forward. For instance, in a 2015 study published in the journal Population Health Management, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine determined that "EHR networks offer the potential for almost real-time determination of the health status of populations in care, for targeting interventions to vulnerable populations, and for monitoring the impact of such initiatives over time." Additionally, the NYU analysts concluded that these results can be especially beneficial in ambulatory care settings where chronic conditions are commonly treated and monitored.
Another notable study published in Preventing Chronic Disease showed that EHR referrals connected communities to focus on diabetes prevention and helped individuals gain access to wholesome, healthy foods. Similarly, a 2014 study conducted by researchers at Columbia University explained that EHR interventions in population health could help discover gaps in clinical care for diabetes patients.
At a time when population health through predictive data analytics is gaining steam, it's crucial for providers to have the best possible EHR platform available. With IMS, doctors can rest assured that their systems are equipped to handle all of the reporting necessary to help promote population health efforts and interoperability.