Telehealth, efforts to address social determinants of health and a focus on health disparities are likely to be among the top priorities in population health this year.
COVID-19 will continue in order to cast its long shadow on U. S. healthcare in 2022. But for populace health, there is that silver lining people so often look for:
innovations and adoption of telehealth that started in 2020 will continue in 2022, even if the peak use of telehealth has tapered off. Providers and payers are usually also continuing to move “upstream” to the social determinants associated with health (SDOH), investing in housing, transportation and other factors that affect people’s wellness but are outside of traditional healthcare.
Another major agenda item for human population health leaders next year is efforts to address healthcare disparities. Disparities within outcomes plus access are usually deeply rooted problems that lend themselves in order to a population health approach — but not to quick fixes.
1 . Go telehealth!
Almost two years after COVID-19 forced a telehealth revolution, patients have come to expect live video interaction offerings from their health plans and providers. Telehealth — which once meant having a live video visit with the physician — has become a commodity, with hundreds of options now available to patients, says Sebastian Seiguer, J. D., MBA, CEO of emocha Wellness , a medication adherence company in Baltimore that is the Johns Hopkins spin-off. Simultaneously, the very definition of “telehealth” is changing, as consumers and companies alike become comfortable using a variety of digital tools such as texting, online portals and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots to give personalized healthcare advice and support.
Specifically, Jessica Sweeney-Platt, vice president associated with research and editorial strategy at athenahealth in Watertown, Massachusetts, expects virtual care to carry on to evolve, as it expands from a reactive mode of handling sick visits in order to incorporate proactive, convenient, preventive care. This is particularly true for individuals working with care teams to manage chronic illnesses. In tandem, wearables, which provide the ability to monitor health at home, will gain popularity.
Along these lines, Nina Birnbaum, M. D., medical director of innovation acceleration at Blue Shield of California, says that will more house monitoring is coming online with on-demand electrocardiograms, continuous glucose monitors along with other opportunities for people to actively engage in their own healthcare. These tools should help physicians better determine what diagnostic workups and treatments are needed, potentially lowering costs.
One example associated with telehealth saving money occurred when the Fresno County, California, Department of Public Health used emocha Health’s digital medication adherence program for one year. The department avoided about 110, 000 vehicle miles while keeping $10, 500 in fuel and $100, 000 within salaries, Seiguer says.
Another group of products are from companies looking to amplify existing models of in-home treatment with technology. A company called Heal is searching to bring back house calls; Papa Health provides health care worker visits and general help at home for lonely older adults; and Ready offers in-home urgent care visits. These are just a few examples of emerging categories, with some players overlapping and others defining entirely new segments, Seiguer says.
Telehealth can also enable a hesitant or time-constrained person to access care conveniently and quickly, helping in order to catch disease progression earlier and ultimately prevent small problems through becoming big ones, says Karen Ignagni, president plus CEO of EmblemHealth in New York, New York. In addition , telehealth helps to manage persistent conditions and treatment faithfulness by providing simple, fast ways with regard to people to check in along with providers.
The government will be beginning to recognize the particular benefits associated with telehealth plus, more broadly, care that will is delivered remotely and digitally. CMS provided reimbursement guidance for a new category of digital wellness, remote therapeutic monitoring, in early November 2021 that compensates providers regarding caring intended for patients outside of a physician’s office. Healthcare suppliers have not had a financial incentive in order to ensure that their sufferers understand plus take their particular medication completely and properly. These new remote restorative monitoring codes provide compensation for the kind of assistance that may lead to greater adherence, Seiguer says.
2 . An eye on SDOH
An emerging trend in tackling SDOH is a greater focus on analyzing barriers to care at the population level and then investing in community programs that can have the particular greatest impact on the most people. Sweeney-Platt says that will providers and payers both have obstacles to overcome.
“While provider organizations are usually driving these conversations — especially those who have taken about Medicare Advantage or managed Medicaid risk — they don’t always have the resources to build programs, ” she observes. “Payers have got also invested in these types of programs but have struggled with low ownership. This leaves a lot of possibilities for payer and supplier collaboration. ”
SDOH present issues that can’t be solved peripherally, say experts. “Successful organizations are those that will can marry sophisticated network-level analytics in order to identify hot-spot practices along with common sets of needs, with deep local knowledge of community sources and partnerships, ” observes Sweeney-Platt.
Among the biggest challenges, she adds, is determining who pays for these types of programs. Robert Bollinger, M. D., M. P. H., the professor of infectious diseases at the particular Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one associated with the inventors of the technology licensed to emocha Health, states healthcare institutions should participate in strategic public-private relationships with government and nongovernmental programs (e. g., Medicaid, community/faith-based organizations) to tackle SDOH issues. He also says these people need in order to push to get more assets to support SDOH attempts.
a few. Addressing disparities
There is a good deal of overlap between dealing with SDOH plus closing healthcare disparity gaps. Bollinger says it’s important to remember that any inhabitants health effort to deal with SDOH must also take into account racial discrimination — within society as a whole as well as in healthcare. He listed some steps that will leaders of healthcare entities can take to begin to deal with disparities:
- Prioritize the particular measurement and report health disparities based on race as well as other SDOH aspects within their clinics, facilities, digital applications and among providers.
- Build meaningful partnerships with trusted community partners — churches, local politicians — in order to enable patients and members to play significant roles in developing solutions that are meant to address these disparities.
- Make racial equity a strategic priority pertaining to an entire organization. Many organizations are emphasizing and implementing training, cultural competency or workforce diversity initiatives. But training alone is not really sufficient. “Equity needs to be more than a standing topic for every C-suite meeting, leadership meeting plus program, ” Bollinger states.
Christopher Dodd, M. D., chief medical officer of PopHealthCare in Franklin, Tennessee, and its home care business, Emcara Wellness, says that Emcara deploys home-based advanced primary treatment teams that include culturally aligned community wellness workers. “This approach enables us to build trusting relationships with underserved community users, ” Dodd says. This model, along understanding the social plus environmental elements affecting health, helps you to prevent serious and costly wellness issues before they arise, he provides.
Karen Appold is really a medical writer in the particular Lehigh Valley region associated with Pennsylvania.