Buzzwords are prevalent in the healthcare industry. Each year, there are new words and phrases that dominate discussions by healthcare leaders, administrators, experts, providers and other professionals. For example, a couple years ago, “artificial intelligence” topped the list of most talked about new areas of focus. 

One of the most popular topics that continues to be bandied about in healthcare is population health. With the transition to value-based care, physicians are rewarded with incentive payments for the quality of care they provide, and the goal of population health is to improve clinical metrics for specific groups of patients.  

Sounds simple enough, right? Sort of. Population health is a broad term with many working parts. There isn’t one uniform strategy for managing population health, and programs have to be scalable to fit the needs of different provider organizations. 

To help keep you informed about what’s going on in the world of population health management and what those trends mean for you, we’ve asked two of our industry experts for their input.

“As workforce shortages continue to plague healthcare organizations, it’s essential that technology is leveraged to make patient engagement scalable and attainable with less resources.” Lisa Blue, Chief of Clinical Innovation for Providertech

Multiple industries across the United States continue to face staffing challenges. Even fast-food restaurants are working with fewer employees than usual. 

The healthcare industry has been hit especially hard by the labor shortage, losing approximately 20 percent of its workforce over the past two years. The reduced workforce isn’t only due to fewer physicians and nurses, either.  More than 85 percent of healthcare facilities are experiencing allied healthcare professional shortages. Those workers consist of therapists, laboratory and imaging technologists and other non-nurse and non-physician healthcare providers. 

Healthcare providers are now responsible for caring for even more patients, exacerbating already high levels of burnout and raising the risk of medical errors. Patients are faced with more limited access to healthcare, and already overcrowded emergency departments are overflowing. 

There’s also a nursing shortage, leading to a higher risk of over- or under-medicating patients, lapses of continuity in treatment and risk of infections and compromised data security. Such shortages already lead to errors and higher morbidity and mortality rates

Digital health tools can be utilized to help mitigate the negative effects of the healthcare labor shortage. How? By streamlining administrative workflows, improving communication and increasing clinician, staff and patient satisfaction. For example, secure and HIPAA-compliant two-way texting can be utilized to clearly communicate with patients in between visits, for post-discharge follow-ups and pre-procedure education and to respond to routine requests — without having to pick up the phone. 

Read more about this topic:

Staffing Shortages, Less Direct Patient Care and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Key Factors in Nurse Burnout

Addressing Health Care’s Talent Emergency

The Healthcare Workforce Shortage: Requiring Hospitals, Health Systems and Physician Practices to Optimize Existing Resources

The State of the Nation’s Nursing Shortage

Encouraging Two-Way Communication With Automation to Offset Staff Shortages

“In 2023, digital population health can make progress in patient navigation. Making it simple and easy for patients to connect with their care teams can make an impactful difference in overall access to care.” Justin Kaechele, Sr. Solutions Consultant for Providertech 

The United States healthcare system isn’t one that’s always easy to navigate. Even when patients have undeterred access to care, they often deal with a lack of price transparency, and those with barriers related to their SDOH variables are at an even more significant disadvantage. 

With the emergence and growth of digital health tools, providers are finding new and more convenient ways to communicate with patients, helping to establish and maintain a better connection with them. In addition to easier navigation of the healthcare system for patients, these resources offer clinicians easy access to real-time, accurate data for enhanced clinical decision-making. 

Digital health tools assist in population health management by automating numerous administrative tasks, which enables physicians and nurses to spend more time on direct patient care. Patient outreach and engagement can be conducted through targeted campaigns to reach the right patients at the right time. 

Read more about this topic:

Measuring the Four Dimensions of Digital Health

CareCommunity: How It Works and Why It Enhances Patient Outcomes

Can Digital Health Technologies Improve Access to Care?

The Four Facets of an Effective Patient Engagement Strategy

Post-COVID-19 Population Health Management: A Primary Component of Reducing Health Disparities

There are sure to be even more changes to population health management in 2023, and you can count on the Providertech team to keep you updated on each of them. In the meantime, subscribe to our blog for information on issues affecting the healthcare industry.