The iPhone changed the world, shifting power to the hands of consumers, enabling real-time access to information, mobile decision-making and new collaboration paradigms between individuals and businesses. Prior to the iPhone, cell phones had already permeated the lives of consumers, giving them mobile connections to other people and companies, but the iPhone was different; it extended engagements beyond phone calls and text messaging, and provided the world with an application ecosystem that helped them shop, entertain themselves, manage their personal finances and professional affairs – all from their palm. Similar to the way iOS gave consumers a new platform to run myriad useful applications to manage the inner-workings of their lives, population health operating systems are extending convenient, rich functionality to clinicians and health systems in need of care delivery applications and workflow guidance, at the point-of-care. These new operating systems will become the central nervous system for population health management strategies and command centers and will disrupt conventional methods of cooperation and workflow models.
A population health management command center
Given the interoperability challenges faced by health systems today, the concept of a command center, for the purpose of centralizing population health management, is appealing. This command center brings together groups of people who monitor and listen to patients and their health advocates, including clinicians, care coordinators and providers, helping them respond to inquiries, synthesize opinions to determine the best course of action, track patient episodes, patterns and practices and actively work patients through the care ecosystem – all from one platform.
By applying this centralized approach, health systems may achieve more coordinated and efficient workflows, across business process management functions and also care delivery itself – whether from within the hospital or at home, via mobile applications. Conceptually, when these disparate applications work in harmony, and feed into a centralized command center, the output is much needed guidance to those in the trenches – but also to those executives managing population health and care coordination strategies and budgets. Well implemented population health command centers will not only pull and analyze information from existing health system tools, such as electronic health records, it will also offer actual ongoing workflow guidance and a system for continuous population health management.
Many health systems focused on population health management believe they have this in place already; however, for those organizations desiring a model for managing the ongoing health and care of their patients, they need to look beyond disjointed risk stratification applications, analytics platforms and care coordination software and must re-think their population health strategy around a centralized command center. These organizations need to keep their eyes on implementing tools that offer immediate value when it comes to helping them better manage their patients, yes – particularly those who are high-risk or have chronic conditions – but they must also think long-term, requiring a more sophisticated, automated, scalable solution.
Compounding this idea, fee-for-service is being replaced by smarter care that is value-based. The tools that health systems are betting on in order to manage this transition, must breathe and move with their existing strategies and organizational processes, giving them a long-term operating system from which they may hang additional applications and population health management strategies. And, they must implement tools and technologies that foster sincere interoperability with existing tools, working in-hand with their electronic health records, as these data silos will feed their application ecosystem.