Population Health Pays Off

Michele Wilson for HealthLeaders Media , January 5, 2012
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The numbers add up in other areas, too. For every thousand diabetes patients treated at HealthPartners in 2000, 68 experienced acute myocardial infarctions and five had body-part amputations. In 2010, those numbers dropped to 41 and 3, respectively.  

Seeing results like that requires time and patience—and a sizable up-front investment. We started this article relating the quick success of Baylor’s new diabetes institute. But that also came after a three-year investment of $15 million to create DHWI.

When it comes to population healthcare, that’s not an uncommon story. “Organizations need to define or determine the underlying business model that would make sense out of a strategy like this,” says Bellin’s Knox. “It requires investment in infrastructure. They have to be committed to this type of investment over time, and they have to be willing to put that work into it.”

And though Baylor saw improved outcomes within just a few months of starting its program, Isham suggests you prepare yourself—and any interested parties within your organization—for a longer wait. “This is an effort that takes years,” he stresses. “We produced these results over [a decade].” That said, he adds, it’s something that’s possible at any organization. “There’s no secret sauce here. It’s not real complicated,” Isham says. “It’s just good common sense, built up with good science.”

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

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