In the next phase of population health data analytics, primary care physicians can expect that there will be a greater focus on patient-related information generated from socioeconomic and environmental factors that impact groups of patients’ health and wellness.
Population health analytics 2.0 is expected to go beyond claims and clinical data. It will include data from smartphones, telehealth equipment, remote monitoring systems and wearable devices, but will also include technologies such as big data tools and artificial intelligence to interpret patterns of behavior that will enable physicians to make better decisions faster.
To get the benefit of tracking population health data, providers will have to build on their investments in electronic health records (EHRs), which do a good job of monitoring patients’ blood pressure, documenting a diabetic’s A1C levels and updating changes to patient’s medications after hospitalization.
However, to advance population health, physician practices will have to seek technologies that capture more data associated with the social determinants of health to help them map out a plan that evaluates not only where patients receive care, but what health risks are present in the places where groups of patients work, live and socialize.
“Small physician practices need to think about what happens beyond a hospital or physician office,” said Cynthia Burghard, research director at IDC Health Insights, a division of Framingham, Mass.-based IDC Research Inc.
She added that technology is increasingly tracking patients at every stage of their episode of care such as after hospitalization when they are recovering at home, in a nursing home or at a rehab center. Technology is also monitoring social determinants like the air quality in a particular neighborhood where asthma patients reside.
“The whole notion of population health is moving the focus from the micro level of following up with a patient to manage their chronic illness to a much wider view of health that looks at the broader group of patients,” Burghard said.