Category Archives: Population Health

Technology and natural disasters: Surviving the floods in Chennai

Exactly one month ago, I came face to face with the fury of El Niño in Chennai, a sprawling city in India of more than 7 million people. The storms and the floods of December 1 left 1.8 million people displaced from their homes and about 400 dead. I narrowly escaped the floods, thanks to my mobile device and the thoughtfulness of strangers. Now, I have a chance to reflect on how technology has made crowdsourced disaster relief possible, and what lessons healthcare can learn from this. Continue reading

Bringing health care and nutrition closer together

Losing weight consistently makes the Top 3 for New Year’s resolutions. Closely related to this are pledges by Americans to exercise and eat healthier. According to a review of the most popular Google “how-to” searches made during the first week before and after New Year’s 2015, learning to cook healthier fare made the top 10, including kale chips (#2), lentils (#5), cabbage (#6), collard greens (#8) and broccoli (#9). Luckily for resolution makers, there are 3 developments in healthcare that will help them follow Hippocrates counsel to “Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine.” Continue reading

Some thoughts on risk measurement

One reader of my latest blog on segmenting health care consumers asked me if I knew of any tools to calculate a person’s chance of developing a particular disease. That question got me thinking again about the topic of risk in health and disease. I pulled a copy of John Last’s Dictionary of Epidemiology from my office bookshelf for a proper epidemiologist’s definition of risk:

“The probability that an event will occur, e.g., that an individual will become ill or die within a stated period of time or age. Also, a nontechnical term encompassing a variety of measures of the probability of a (generally) unfavorable outcome.”1 Continue reading

Lifestyle improvement: An untapped resource in population health management

The recent report describing a decline in new cases of diabetes is good news. An article about it in The New York Times does a nice job describing the lifestyle changes individuals have made to reduce their personal risk. The article is informative on several levels: Continue reading

Prescribing exercise to achieve the Triple Aim

It’s a fact: Americans have become more sedentary. This not only leads to greater susceptibility to obesity and chronic diseases, but also contributes to increased symptom severity for those with chronic conditions. Getting the entire nation off the couch and on their feet is a laudable goal for promoting overall health and quality of life. Given resource limitations, however, it would be best to focus on patient subgroups, particularly those that would experience the greatest benefit from physical activity while meeting the goals of the Triple Aim – better outcomes, improved patient satisfaction, and lower cost. Continue reading

Will the first technology choices in design of population health be the most important?

As the healthcare industry strives to converge all the data sources required to manage population health, the mass of data needed to do it well, and to both clinically and analytically inform, will require something of a science project. Let’s call it gravity. Continue reading

The seven habits of highly successful care programs—and six examples

Last month, David Blumenthal, MD, director of The Commonwealth Fund, addressed a 3M conference in New York City on value-based care. He mentioned soon-to-be-released recommendations from his organization on effective models for healthcare improvement.

What he didn’t say was that the recommendations would be accompanied by a media crusade. In the past several weeks, The Commonwealth Fund has released a range of multi-media content advocating new models of care. Continue reading

Good news and bad news: The cost of (partial) Patient-Centered Medical Home implementation

Magill and colleagues published a nice analysis of the staffing costs of a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH). Compared to a regular practice that already has an electronic medical record, they looked at the incremental costs associated with meeting NCQA standards for Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition.

The investigators reported incremental costs in three ways: Continue reading

“What did you have for dinner last night?” Nutrition and the healthcare system

While we often hear about the role of good nutrition in promoting health, it is not typically discussed in the context of the Triple Aim – better outcomes, lower cost and improved patient satisfaction. What are the opportunities in health care to promote good nutrition and improve healthcare outcomes? Continue reading

Focus on patient preferences

I am a Registered Nurse. I won’t admit to how many years’ experience I have, but suffice to say, this is not my first rodeo. I had to chuckle when I read the October 29, 2015 news release from CMS titled, “Discharge Planning Proposed Rule Focuses on Patient Preferences.”

For those who are not case managers, and I know there are a ton of you out there, “discharge planning” is the term we apply to the act of planning a patient’s discharge as soon as they are admitted to the hospital or other facility. Continue reading