What is the ideal healthcare situation? What is the utopian future of healthcare that you dream to achieve? Fairly common amongst such visions would be the future with no disease or perhaps future where healthcare is pervasive or aiming at a cost-effective healthcare system. Whichever may be your idea of health care future, it is very much likely that it will have elements of population health and care management.
Population health simply put, is realizing how much of a say a community has on an individual’s health and focusing on the individual; caring for a community as a unit, monitoring the spread, cause, and effect of the disease, conditions, and environment.
Population health will provide following benefits to a community
Identifying the source of the problem
Improves overall wellness
Create interest and awareness
Population health management will help the providers identify early warning signs regarding the spread of a disease or prevalence of a condition. This allows taking precise and effective preventive measures to ensure that the spread of any disease is constrained and stopped. Up until now, all that there is to healthcare was to treat the known diseases and conditions, as and when it is reported. But an early warning helps in understanding the problem and has the advantage of preventing an epidemic.
2. Identifying the source of the problem:
The source of the problem may not always be straightforward or even a medical problem. For example, if in a community many people are suffering from a disease and if the average of the population that suffers from such disease is higher than national average then it is a clear sign that there is something unique in the case of this community and it requires special attention. The nature of the community and the culture of the people can play a role in understanding health and tell how prone a person is to diseases.
3. Improve overall well-being:
When population health and care management tools try and identify the various elements at play which can ensure health in a community these steps can improve overall well-being. An arbitrary definition of this concept will be ‘good or satisfactory condition of existence’. It is a vague definition but it quite clearly covers the whole concept of value-based care, one solution fits all, does not fit here at all.
4. Create interest and awareness:
Any step in the direction of healthcare can only be successful if all participants in it are keen to do it. Care management is a great tool in creating awareness amongst the population by communicating information and making then active in managing their health than just being silent participants.
There are two ways to go about achieving what we want, one way which is, of course, the more common and a more popular practice that is to dream about future of healthcare but sit back arms on either side, waiting for incentives to force a change in the present. The second less popular is to take more active part in the making of the law, sharing data to aid research and participating in pilot studies. The way forward is the way of data and a lot of it, the community of healthcare providers should be ready to embrace new technology to collect, process and communicate data that will bring healthcare into its utopia.