Population Health and Wellness: Putting the Person in the Middle
By Marc Willard, president
Today’s health system is focused on treating individuals that are already sick, rather than taking a more proactive approach to achieve long-term wellness. I refer to this challenge as the juxtaposition of “sickville” versus “healthyville”. Sickville represents the state of healthcare today—a never-ending continuum of people who fall into a system focused on episodic care, rather than one that proactively promotes health and long-term wellness—healthyville.
Through my own personal health journey, I realized if we take personal charge of our health, we can change our outcomes. Healthcare should be something we engage in every single day, not just during an annual doctor’s visit. If health systems focused on both sickville and healthyville, then we could be practicing true population health and wellness.
How Do We Evolve to Population Health and Wellness?
In order for healthcare to continue to evolve, we need to engage people in their care; we need to put the person in the middle. By putting the person in the middle, they can take personal charge of their health with the support of a care team around them. A care team not only consists of a primary care doctor, but also their spouse, kids and friends—even a perfect stranger can be influential to one’s care. In a healthcare setting, the person should be in the middle of an entire care network that can easily access and share information to ensure care decisions can be enhanced and a person’s health improved. When we engage the person in their healthcare, that’s when we can change outcomes. We can lower costs; we can increase outcomes for the better… We can create a healthier population.
What Technology Is Needed to Put the Person in the Middle?
Healthcare IT has changed dramatically in the past couple of years, but in order to put the person in the middle of care, it is going to have to evolve yet again. A huge challenge in healthcare is the lack of interoperability. To get patients to fully take charge of their own health, healthcare organizations must have systems in the organization and beyond that can communicate with each other. Today there are thousands of healthcare applications to choose from on a mobile device or a computer, all the claims data lies with insurance companies and all the clinical data is stored within hospitals and clinics; meanwhile none of them work together. Everything is siloed. Technology that puts the person in the middle must truly funnel all information into one perspective to boost patient engagement. This is where I see the benefits of creating a Unified Platform.
Steve Jobs created a Unified Platform with the iPhone. He wanted a way for everything in our lives to come together—whether it is applications for banking, shopping, communicating or entertainment—it doesn’t matter. It’s all accessible in one place. That’s what we need to do in healthcare. A Unified Platform in the healthcare setting can link disparate systems while using open standards to provide care teams access to critical data from both sickville and healthyville. By leveraging healthcare analytics to transform this data into usable insights available at the point of care, care teams can make proactive care decisions and better manage their patients while keeping the healthy people healthy. In order to achieve a true state of population health and wellness, let’s remind ourselves to put the person in the middle.
How Are You Taking Charge of Your Health?