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Most health care managers expect return on population health investments: survey

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | January 20, 2015
Population Health
Over half of health care managers expect to recoup their investment in population health management programs in the next three to four years, according to a KPMG survey. The survey was conducted during a webcast and included about 300 respondents.

The industry is undergoing a paradigm shift as public and private insurers refuse to provide coverage for avoidable hospital visits. Hospitals are looking toward population health management programs in order to cut those avoidable medical costs and also to standardize care.

"Providers and other participants in the care delivery system need the real time data and analytic tools to not only manage and improve the quality of care provided, but also the ability to measure costs to operate efficiently," Joe Kuehn, KPMG partner with the health care advisory practice, said in a statement.

When asked about the major clinical benefit of the programs, 36 percent of the respondents cited preventative care. But 23 percent indicated developing evidence-based clinical protocols to enhance efficiency and 21 percent chose managing chronic diseases.

To get the most out of these programs and also get the fastest return on investment, Kuehn says hospitals should redesign and implement care management processes, employ evidence-based medical protocols and develop a strong change-management strategy.

But many hospitals have a lot of work to do. Only 24 percent of the respondents described their population health management capabilities as mature. Most of them – 38 percent – believe their efforts are in the elementary stages, 23 percent described their programs as in the "infancy stage" and 15 percent don't have any such capabilities.

Cost appears to be the biggest hurdle – 42 percent stated that it's the main challenge standing in the way of implementing the programs. A quarter of them reported that getting the physicians and medical staff accustomed with the programs was their main issue.

Interoperability with other providers was a problem for 19 percent and 14 percent had issues getting used to new payor relationships.

The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs are also on health care managers' minds. Almost half of the respondents – 42 percent – believe that the time, resources and capital they put into the population health management programs can also help with meaningful use. Only 13 percent view meaningful use as an "impediment or distraction" for population health efforts.

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