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FCW : July 30, 2014
participating in some form of care management program. Second is a workflow function and the ability to create personalized care plans for individual patients, Burghard said. And third, a population health platform provides a communications component that enables organizations to communicate with individual patients and the wider community. Specialized vendors and payers have the most experi- ence in setting up population health management systems, Goldstein said. Vendors include Accenture, Healthways, U.S. Preventive Medicine and Viridian. Payers operate their own systems or partner with vendors. EHR suppliers are joining those traditional players and adding population health management features to their prod- ucts, Goldstein said. Health care providers are also creating systems to manage populations. The VA, for example, is partnering with vendors such as Microsoft to establish its data analytics and population health infrastructure. The hurdles Population health management faces a few obstacles, one of which is privacy. Any organization amassing large stores of health data is bound to invite scrutiny. Indeed, a JASON group report created for AHRQ titled “A Robust Health Data Infrastructure” cited concerns about the use of health data as a major challenge. JASON is a government advisory group administered by Mitre. “There is a natural tension between the private and pub- lic use of health-related data,” states the report, which was released in November 2013. “Individual patient health data are sensitive and therefore must be carefully safeguarded, whereas population health data are a highly valuable, and largely untapped, resource for basic and clinical research.” The availability of health data is less of a barrier today given the wider adoption of EHRs. But problems persist when health care organizations attempt to aggregate that data. “There are so many [EHR] vendors out there [that] you still have to figure out how to link these together on a broad- er level,” Goldstein said. But for Burghard, the underlying technology of popu- lation health management is relatively straightforward. She said the greater difficulty lies in “getting good data in and getting actionable insights out” of a population health management program. She cited the example of laboratory systems that calibrate test results differently; organizations must normalize the data from different labs to make sure they are comparing apples to apples. “The complexity of that data and the quality of that data become a real challenge,” Burghard said. ■ 30 July 30, 2014 FCW.COM ExecTe c h FCW Has Gone Mobile. Go to fcw.com/tablet to download the tablet app today! Your mobile fcw.com experience — optimized. Visit fcw.com from your smartphone and enjoy the easier navigation and new sharing options Y e Vi na
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