While evaluating approaches to improve population health, many organizations consider only half of the equation — how much will new approaches cost compared to the current offerings, likely over short-term budget cycles.
However, it’s just as important to consider the costs that will be incurred if you don’t find a solution that will improve the health and well-being of everyone in the organization.
Unmanaged healthcare claims, expensive emergency treatment, extended hospital stays, and staff coverage for sick or injured employees can quickly drain budgets and send costs spiraling.
Balancing the needs of your organization and the limits of your resources to improve population health can be difficult. But the right tools can make the task easier and far less painful.
Challenges to population health
One of the main obstacles to population health has been the corporatization of healthcare. Premium costs increased as insurance companies locked down on medical claims, leaving patients with the bill.
The fee-for-service model makes a wide range of specialists and services available to patients. But these services are not accessible. Because basic care is cost prohibitive, patients often don’t visit a doctor until they’re already so ill that urgent or emergency care is necessary.
If they do go to visit a specialist, the healthcare journey for them begins all over again — including long wait times, short appointments, and a slew of diagnostics and tests — so care is not only staggered and disconnected, but often delayed.
Another obstacle is the perception that it will be prohibitively expensive for an organization to improve population health. No one wants to pay more because the current system is already too costly.
Given the right tools and execution of primary care services, improved population health becomes a much more affordable and attainable goal — one that has the added benefit of reducing costs and outcomes.
Achieving better population health
Vera’s Advanced Primary Care model is the path to creating better population health. It delivers the time-rich appointments and proactive engagement that members need in order to feel confident in taking control of their own health.
Strong member-provider relationships are built through empathetic listening and a focus on whole-patient health. That means going beyond the symptoms to find and address any underlying causes, issues, social determinants, and other factors that keep patients from living fuller, healthier lives.
Providing a single point of care — a location or team from which patients can receive most of their healthcare, treatment, and follow-up — not only presents a more convenient solution for managing population health, but a more effective one.
For specific populations, Vera is able to manage care effectively because we are able to hire an entire care team and set up a dedicated care center.
Other tools, like advanced analytics and claim data analysis, help providers to identify patient health risks, giving them a more nuanced understanding of environmental health factors, opportunities for improving health, and the best ways to drive positive outcomes.
Looking after a community’s health means being able to better predict their needs and treat them more efficiently, which in turn reduces the number of claims, expensive urgent care trips, hospital stays, and total healthcare costs in the long run. This investment in the well-being of the population will provide returns long into the future.