5 Population Health Essentials You Need to Focus On Now

September 13, 2016 Mike Pallagi, Senior Content Manager

Anil Jain, M.D., vice president of IBM Watson Health, described in an article last week the five key areas he believes healthcare providers should focus on in their effort to embrace population health

  1. Getting the data. Jain believes that while “successful population health initiatives need access to relevant, accurate data,” providers must also have an understanding of a patient’s “habits, personality and environment” while using “biometric telemetry, mobile and wearable app data, public data, and social data” and “nontraditional sources such as social media, government records or even weather patterns.”
  2. Interoperability. The author puts a premium on the importance of an organization’s ability to share data, noting that those “that take a proactive approach to interoperability by following protocols outlined in FHIR and making efforts to standardize data are at a considerable advantage when it comes to population health.”
  3. Infrastructure investment. Appreciating the role a quality infrastructure plays in any population-health program, Jain suggests that “cloud-based or hybrid solutions that mix internal capabilities with outsourced software solutions can be much more flexible and much less capital- and human resource-intensive.”
  4. Patient and provider engagement. Recognizing the infrequency of patient/provider encounters, the author advocates the “smart use of technology, including natural language processing, cognitive computing and population health analytics” to help focus communications both during and after encounters.
  5. Scaling knowledge, expertise. Jain believes that “organizations need to be able to identify patient cohorts with ever more subtle and sophisticated characteristics,” but assures that cognitive computing will offer its users the power to process data and recognize the needs of a population in a nuanced way, taking into account far more variables than a human could.”

These five areas align well with the seven As for precision medicine that constantly guide our work in healthcare IT—acquire, aggregate, analyze, access, act, adapt, and adopt—and it’s truly exciting to see the spirit of those concepts being reflected in the content of someone as esteemed as Anil Jain.

Read the full blog post here.

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