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Essential Approaches for Successful Population Health Management

Population health management requires a nursing background encompassing solid communication, decision-making ability and project management skills. And that’s just for starters. Becoming qualified to work for high-risk and underserved people in different models of population health care and management is within reach for nursing practitioners. Students can advance their career path into the health management field by completing the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Population health management has become a leading topic of interest among doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. According to a recent Healthcare Trends and Forecasts survey, population health management (56 percent) ranked highest among three key areas of value-based priorities in 2014 by health professionals. Care coordination (51 percent) and integrated care delivery (42 percent) initiatives ranked as the next two highest priorities in 2014.

Individual health care is as important as utilizing population-based models to assess risk, deliver quality services, and address crucial health needs across demographics. Completing courses for the Doctorate in Nursing Practice enables nursing students to see the role of individuals into population-based management, while introducing population-oriented preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitative models of care with high-risk, underserved people. Let’s explore some of the details behind this fascinating area of study.

How to Effectively Address Population Health

Understanding population health management is often linked to insights and data analysis from within specific population groups. It’s necessary to find specific patterns and data streams in certain population segments, and then use tools to visualize and attribute data points to these population groups. Among the areas for study ripe for this exploration includes hospital admission rates, emergency admissions, and other forms of care to analyze the health needs of the community.

Specialized software becomes essential to successful population health management. Health care applications can help create an electronic registry containing information on people, their health issues, the medications they take and lab results, among other details. This data is useful in stratifying risk and determining who needs what care, and when. It’s also possible to promote good health behavior on a larger scale.

Delivering adequate health care to underserved groups requires the following aspects:

Community-Centric Focus

By mapping lab services, surgical needs, emergency care and dentistry to the needs of the population, nursing professionals can help formulate the overall health care strategy. A flow model of care from outpatient and inpatient, to nursing, clinical, and home care, could be created in this format. By using data to prioritize and determine the most urgent needs of the individual, it’s possible to manage health care across the entire community.

Underprivileged communities often experience health care gaps, so a cost-effective way to manage information is also needed. Such a system will keep patients up to date and involve them in the care process. Patients should always have access to a physician, caregiver, case manager, or other specialist experienced with treating their conditions.

Technology vs. Caregiver Workflow

Nursing doctorate graduates must have access to the latest technology for effective population health management. The new systems must simplify a caregiver’s job and reduce the complexity in everyday use. Workers can identify patients with care gaps, those whose conditions are uncontrolled, and who cannot afford to be left behind in their health care needs.

If someone is due for a test, this information will show up and appropriate actions can be taken. This capability scales across the population so all of a physician’s patients receive notifications if they are due for appointments, tests, etc. Scalability is therefore a major attribute, so software or other systems work as well for large communities as for individuals.

Care Process Outline

Where are the healthcare resources being consumed? Software applications with bubble charts can help users understand and manage the care process. These programs can apply group health conditions to their own processes, and create procedural codes within groupings based on specific health care categories. More efficiency in the system can be had by assessing the total cost, charges, net revenue, case count, and other metrics.

Shift in Business Model

Professional nurses are at the forefront of modern population health management. Often, the patient’s entire health care team is involved equally. In other cases, the physician acts as a CEO with nurses, advanced practitioners, and others under their belt. The goal is to motivate patients and the clinical workforce, reduce cost, and increase quality using both processes and technology.

Population Health Management: An Urgent Need

Population health management is most needed in communities where higher proportions of the people have preventable conditions or suffer avoidable acute illnesses. Diabetes and heart disease are a couple of examples which can be addressed using automated messages, quality improvement, enhanced data analytics, scaled up automation, and better access to educational materials.

Clearly, a strong doctorate in nursing practice is essential for successful population health management. In health care, there are many decisions, communications, and nursing-led requirements that can occur. The coursework in the Catholic University of America Online Doctorate of Nursing Practice program applies these to real-world situations by preparing the nurse for organized and effective health care.

Population health management is an achievable goal for healthcare professionals and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from The Catholic University of America can assist greatly in moving one closer to that goal. You can learn more about it and the specific tracks available to complement one’s health care career interests.