Population health management is the future for health systems. It's how they're going to navigate reimbursement cuts and abide by healthcare reform while improving patient care at the same time. That's what healthcare leaders are saying and being told.
The PHM concept makes sense, especially from a clinical standpoint: work across the care continuum to coordinate care and improve the overall health of a community, including the chronically ill and expensive frequent-flier visitors to the ED.
But in hashing out the details, some health systems and practitioners will be winners and others will be losers—and it's too early in the game to know for sure which will be which. That's the counsel of executives of leading systems whom I spoke with recently while preparing for an executive Roundtable discussion on population health.
To begin with, "It's important to pick the right dance partners," says Earl Steinberg, MD, who is executive vice president for innovation and dissemination and chief of Healthcare Solutions Enterprise for Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA. Health systems must enter into networks with physician groups, post-acute care facilities, and even competitors to ensure the broad spectrum of patient care that will be required.