Population health management is the key to accountable care and healthcare reform. By applying technology to population health strategies to continually identify, assess, and stratify provider panels, physician groups can use technology and automation to augment the role of care teams, manage the patient population more effectively and efficiently, drive better outcomes, and decrease overall cost, as demanded by new payment incentives focused on value. The goal of population health management is to keep a patient population as healthy as possible, minimizing the need for expensive interventions such as emergency department visits, hospitalizations, imaging tests, and procedures. This not only lowers costs, but also redefines healthcare as an activity that encompasses far more than sick care. While Population Health management focuses partly on the high-risk patients who generate the majority of health costs, it systematically addresses the preventive and chronic care needs of every patient. Because the distribution of health risks changes over time, the objective is to modify the factors that make people sick or exacerbate their illnesses.
Such an approach requires the use of automation. Not only are there not enough providers and care managers to manage every patient continuously, but PHM also involves a large number of routine tasks that do not have to be performed by human beings. Bringing modern information technology to bear on these tasks saves time, money, and makes PHM economically feasible. Automation also allows organizations to better assess population needs and stratify populations based on geography, health status, resource utilization, and demographics.