Providers back population health management despite Affordable Care Act uncertainty

By Bernie Monegain | August 1, 2017

A new Health Catalyst survey shows population health work is going strong even amid the turmoil surrounding the failed efforts by the Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The July survey of 199 healthcare executives showed 68 percent of healthcare executives responding indicated population health management is “very important” to their healthcare delivery strategy over the next two years. Fewer than 3 percent assigned it “no importance at all.”

The move to value-based care is bolstering high opinions of population health, according to the survey. Value-based care, or value-based reimbursement, rewards doctors and hospitals for patients’ health outcomes rather than for each service they provide. It has garnered broad bipartisan support in Congress.

The survey results reveal the impact of the current political unrest on healthcare organizations’ willingness to commit to a long-term population health strategy, according to Marie Dunn, vice president of population health strategy for Health Catalyst.

The results coincide with recent studies showing growth in the use of pop health technologies – including a July 2017 study from Signify Research that predicts the number of lives managed by pop health solutions in the U.S. and Canada will rise to 245 million in 2021, up more than 80 percent from 135 million lives in 2016, Dunn said.

On the other hand, 4 percent of respondents said they were “pausing” their pop health plans in response to the current political situation, and 10 percent of survey takers said they were undecided on the question. 

Among the barriers to population health success included “financial issues,” “getting paid for our efforts,” and “balancing competing contract incentives,” according to survey responses.

“The bottom line is, providers see population health management as something they need to do and that they want to do to provide better care for patients, but they are struggling with the economics of operating in both the fee-for-service and value-based care worlds – having one foot in each canoe,” Amy Flaster, MD, vice president of population health management and care management for Health Catalyst, said in a statement.