The confluence of value-based care and population health

This post was originally published on this site

In the weeks leading up to the HIMSS 2018 conference in early March, I posted a question to the HIMSS community (45,000 strong in person at the conference and over 180,000 strong on the Linked In group), seeking to encourage conversation about the intersection of value-based care and population health.

Here’s the post (check it out in its original form on Linked In to see all the comments — you’ll have to join the group if you aren’t already a member):

How do we motivate people to become active participants in improving their health?

Implicit in that question are many other questions: What is it, exactly, that we are measuring? How do we know if a particular change is an improvement? How much of an improvement is enough? What are the incentives that are sufficient to move the various actors on the healthcare stage?

I think it is fair to say that the “science” of population health management should be considered to be under development. There are always further improvements that may be made.

A recurring conversation that I have been engaged in over the years revolves around the question of measures: What are we measuring? What are we incentivizing? Are we really buying better health through this approach to value-based payment for healthcare services?

We are certainly hurtling along the value-based care trajectory, and may not have the opportunity to make more that just a few mid-course corrections.

However, as we think about what future state we are trying to reach with these incentives, it is useful to think about health on a population level – not looking solely at patient-level or panel-level measures over time.

I heard a nice definition of population health recently: “Connecting people with resources for healthy living.”

That really spoke to me, because it represents a step back from a tightly-quantified measure to a broader approach to social determinants of health (SDOH). There is a growing understanding that SDOH are foundational to patient and population health; that without taking care of the basics – food, shelter, clothing – delivering health care services is simply not enough.

With this background I ask you: What is your definition of population health and what are the tools we need to manage it more effectively?

David Harlow

The Harlow Group LLC

Health Care Law and Consulting

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg

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