Hospitals across the country are increasingly engaging patients for population health initiatives. That calls for a big dose of staying power and a solid telehealth program, to mention just two must-haves.
Take Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, for example. The 21-hospital system created a dedicated innovation center and research institute, according to Simita Mishra, who oversees Northwell's population health management initiatives.
Northwell's work in the population health informatics field focuses on clinical integration, RHIO connectivity, an internal health information exchange, EHR transformation and optimization, as well as tapping into its well-established business intelligence department's robust data analytics and reporting capabilities.
The payoff? "Reduced readmission rates, higher patient satisfaction, increase in the number of patients connected to their primary care physicians," Mishra said, "and lower cost/utilization."
Looking ahead, Northwell is investigating how to expand the reach of its population health program via telehealth technologies.
A robust telehealth program, in fact, is critical to population health initiatives.
Sue Schade, Principal of StarBridge Advisors and a veteran CIO, explained that the first step is to outline a telemedicine strategy and, from there, tactically implement specific programs.
"You need to look closely at how to fully leverage what your core EMR vendor can provide before looking to add-on products," Schade said.
Also, before investing in one-off solutions that need to be integrated, it's critical to fully understand what your core EHR vendor's product roadmap looks like for this rapidly evolving market, Schade added.
Once leadership is onboard, commit and invest, she said.
As it builds out its population health portfolio, Northwell is also exploring home monitoring, virtual visits and patient self-engagement tools.
"The goal is to improve quality and timeliness of care delivery by use of technology and metrics," Mishra said.
In addition to telehealth, Northwell has its pipeline and electronic data warehouse tool that will enable providers to share data amongst themselves and with partner organizations, she said.
"We are working to improve the health of our population even when they are not within a Northwell facility," Mishra said.
Mishra and Schade will each discuss population health telemedicine programs at the upcoming Big Data and Healthcare Analytics Forum in Boston, Oct. 23-24, 2017.