Partnerships among various stakeholders in the health care ecosystem will be key to successfully engaging patients in population health models, explained panelists at the recent 2019 MIT Sloan Healthcare & BioInnovations Conference in Boston. Providers who are responsible for managing health and disease prevention must focus upstream, encouraging healthful behaviors and impacting the social determinants of health. Successful population health management isn’t likely to be achieved by providers alone.
“Population health largely occurs outside the traditional health care institution. It occurs in the home and community,” said Andy Shin, J.D., MPH, chief operating officer of the AHA’s Center for Health Innovation. He shared two elements that appear in many successful partnerships: The stakeholders stop competing — at least within the scope of the agreement — and all parties align on one or two clear objectives. Because the potential measures within population health are vast, partners must narrow their focus. For example, they might focus on a specific area of improvement for patients with a certain chronic disease. “If you try to boil the ocean, you’ll lack the focus needed to align diverse stakeholders,” said Shin.
Potential partnerships for population health also should extend beyond traditional health care players, said Sanjay Pathak, COO of CVS Minute Clinic and vice president of operations for CVS Health. “We’re interested in [partnering with] employers, the real purchasers of health care, in what we can do … around medical cost reduction.” The comment by Pathak suggests CVS’ aim for its Aetna acquisition may go beyond just reducing costs. The insurance arm’s market share could benefit if it’s successful in developing a lower-cost insurance product with convenient access via CVS’ considerable retail footprint.
In the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, “everyone is fighting for the premium dollar,” said Mark Prather, M.D., CEO and co-founder at DispatchHealth, a company that provides urgent care in patients’ homes.
The Center for Health Innovation also supported the Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize that recognizes early-stage health care innovation by connecting startup teams with industry professionals and the opportunity to compete for a $25,000 prize. This year’s winner, Umbulizer, developed a reliable, low-cost portable ventilator for patients in resource-limited health care settings.