CIOs committing to more population health technology

March 15, 2017

New research shows executives want to invest in enhancing their systems as population health’s role grows.

As healthcare stakeholders improve on the technology they’ll need to support population health management, chief information officers (CIOs) say they’ll invest more money to support their population health and care coordination strategies, according to a report recently published by KPMG, LLP, an audit, tax and consulting firm.

The report, “Beyond Implementation: Optimizing EHRs to Realize Results,” documents the opinions of more than 100 members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), who ranked their top priority for capital investment over the next three years.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents identified electronic health record (EHR) optimization, followed by 21% who said investments in accountable care or population health technology are their top priority. Clinical and operational analytics technology placed third with 16%. Virtual or telehealth technology enhancements was next at 13%, followed by revenue cycle systems replacement at 7% and ERP systems replacement was last at 6%.

“A good population health IT infrastructure is going to require capturing data from many different types of technologies such as EHRs, mobile devices, claims data software and telehealth systems,” said Ralph Fargnoli, advisory managing director at KPMG. “In addition, the appropriate software is needed to aggregate and analyzed patient data before physicians can find trends and patterns relating to treatment and outcomes of the group of patients being followed.” 

Fargnoli told Medical Economics that one key element to building a successful population health management program is to create interoperable EHRs that will allow care teams to securely share quality data to help them make informed decisions in a timely manner.

However, creating the right IT system to follow large groups of patients can be challenging.

In a 2016 KPMG report, researchers concluded that health organizations still suffer from a fragmented system where care is delivered in silos, data is not shared across the continuum of care, patients are engaged on a reactive basis and patient data is used only when care is administered.

Next: Independence vs. investment

 

 

Weighing independence vs. investment

Putting together the right technology, however, is half of the problem. Discussions are evolving around how hospitals and healthcare systems will share their information to partners in the community, including small independent practice physicians.

Fargnoli said among the questions being raised about data sharing across healthcare entities are:

·      How much assess to data will hospitals allow?

·      Which independent physicians should be selected to access the hospital’s system?

·      How should the extended IT infrastructure be built to accommodate small practice physician’s office?

·      Who is going to pay for and maintain the system?

Fargnoli warned that as the demand for new technology to support value-based care increases, and the expense of new architecture and interfaces are required to advance collaboration among care teams, the trend of doctors joining large health organizations to relieve themselves of the burden of running a practice will continue.

He added that for small independent physician practices who want to participate in a population health initiative, the lesson they should take away is that they’ll need to assess whether their technology is capable of collecting, aggregating and analyzing patient data to generating population health reports about their panel of patients.

“There’s a tradeoff. Many physicians are torn between wanting to maintain their independence in a small practice and joining a health system where they don’t have to worry about running a practice, buying technology or managing the complexities of everything from following up with patients to handling big data projects,” Fargnoli said.