Effective population health management is essential for taking on risk and succeeding in today’s healthcare environment. With chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease and diabetes being among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems, it is vital that provider organizations learn how to manage these populations providing higher quality patient care, improving value and increasing reimbursements.
Skillfully using big data is the only way to correctly identify these patients and assess the care they need. But, with big data comes big questions: Are the data trustworthy? Are the data relevant? Is the data set complete? And maybe the most important question: Are the data a complete or at least adequate representation of the patient’s health? No matter how much data you have access to, if the integrity and quality are even slightly compromised, the data won’t provide adequate information needed to improve the care of a population.
EHRs present a wealth of data, but they also come with a few concerns. For example, a procedure such as a mammogram or colonoscopy that occurs outside of the home network facility might not be recorded or noted in the EHR data, but is pertinent information for a provider to know, both for individual care and population health management. Only when paired with claims data will this data set be complete.
Data quality also can be affected by the number of EHRs collecting data within a health system. Information coming from different sources can result in capture of data in unpredictable or unusable locations. To be useful, EHR data from disparate sources need to be aggregated, mapped and harmonized into a single collaborative environment to ensure full visibility of the patient population.
The ability to access and use the information in a timely manner is also crucial. A report won’t be helpful if the data pulled are two or three months old. It is necessary for providers to have appropriate, up-to-the-minute data prior to a patient visit, so they can provide more informed care decisions at the point of care.
By focusing on the capture, storage and transport of patient data, providers can ensure they have the right information to make key strategic decisions and manage patient populations.
Population health won’t work without data, but it definitely won’t work with bad data. Managing complex patient populations requires comprehensive and reliable EHR data—data that providers can trust and rely on. Reliable data enable better risk stratification and prediction, more engaged providers and improved care coordination. When data are trusted, relevant and complete, healthcare providers are empowered to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time—the true meaning of value-based care.