Population health management (PHM) has seen its popularity grow significantly in recent years, and with good reason. By leveraging population health management, organizations can provide better preventative measures to large groups of patients, improving outcomes while also cutting down costs.

As a previous blog post noted, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that 2016 is going to be the biggest year yet for population health management. However, it’s important for health care decision-makers to look beyond this year if they hope to take full advantage of the potential that population health management has to offer.

“The PHM market will see a 23.2% CAGR through 2020.”

PHM Growing
To appreciate the value of looking further ahead when it comes to population health management, consider the latest report on the subject from Research and Markets. According to the study, the population health management market is on pace to experience a compound annual growth rate of 23.2 percent for the period between 2015 and 2020. That means the market will be worth nearly $32 billion by the end of the decade.

There are several reasons why population health management is on track to see such growth beyond 2016. One of the most important, according to the research, is the simple fact that U.S. health care spending continues to accelerate. The report noted that the National Healthcare Expenditure of the U.S. reached $3.2 trillion last year, and care providers realized they will need to embrace new strategies for driving down expenditures going forward if they want to remain competitive. High-quality population health management programs, along with health care analytics, represent some of the most viable and increasingly popular means of achieving this goal.

The Research and Markets study also found that the continuing implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will further spur health care providers to embrace population health management in order to abide by the law’s regulatory mandates.

In light of all of this, CEO of Wellcentive Tom Zajac, speaking to HIT Consultant, recently argued that those organizations that wait to adopt population health management strategies will find themselves at a serious disadvantage. He pointed to the imminent arrival of value-based payment reform as a key factor.

[I]naction around value-based initiatives will bear a heavy cost,” said Zajac, the source reported. “Placing strategic focus on payment reform issues today will be a key strategic factor for organizational success and growth.”

Population heath management programs represent a powerful method by which care providers can improve their overall quality, and in turn take greater advantage of forthcoming value-based payment reform efforts.

PHM depends on a comprehensive approach.
PHM depends on a comprehensive approach.

Getting PHM Right
As health care providers look ahead to the future and debate their various options in regard to population health management, there are several important concepts and issues to keep in mind.

Notably, Zajac emphasized the importance of developing a holistic approach to population health management programs. After all, the value that population health management has to offer is largely predicated on providers taking a more comprehensive view of patient groups and their collective health needs. If the population health management program itself fails to fully embrace the concept of a holistic approach, then it won’t be able to deliver the best possible results for patients and care providers alike.

Managed Healthcare Executive recently highlighted similar arguments among a number of industry experts and leaders. More specifically, Fred Goldstein, a member of the board of directors for the Population Health Alliance, told the source that organizations need to make sure their population health management systems collect tremendous amounts of wide-ranging data. Any limitations here will prevent organizations from gaining an accurate, in-depth view of the populations’ health, which makes it impossible to deliver optimized preventative measures.

Of course, getting ahold of all of that data presents a serious challenge for many health care providers. What’s more, organizations need sophisticated solutions in place to effectively mine this data and gain useful insight. To this end, it’s critical for health care providers to work with health IT consultants and services providers that can provide the necessary guidance and expertise to ensure that organizations can take action now to fully leverage population health management in the future.