Population Health Analytics

While helping individuals become healthy is desirable, the ultimate goal of any health care provider agency is to establish a healthy population. Reaching this goal requires gathering data on a population to assess each person’s current overall health. Using this big data, an agency can develop population health analytics reports that provide a larger picture of the health status of the entire population within a community. Explore why these analytics are essential and learn about other factors that can help you use and implement them to improve the health of your community.

Why Are Population Health Analytics Important?

Knowing the health status of individuals within a population can give you insight into an entire community’s health. Gathering data on population health can provide the information you need to assess where your organization’s services could improve or if holes in services exist for a given community. However, your agency needs to take the analytics it gathers and form usable projections and plans that benefit the people you serve. This work can prove challenging, as the data your agency collects needs to be put together in an organized way that presents the information so that it’s usable.

With population health analytics, your team can look at various factors that affect the community’s health. Your team members can then take this data to formulate plans and implement programs that improve and benefit a population’s physical and mental health. The metrics used in analyzing health data will determine which factors you consider when creating reports, as you’ll be able to decide which services could be most beneficial. Presenting your findings after analyzing the health data of a population can help you decide whether funding will be available for the programs you want to implement.

Your reports are crucial when requesting financial assistance for implementing your organization’s health care programs. Depending on where you’re seeking funding, you’ll need to present specific data that relates to and defines the need for your program, and that’s where population health analytics comes into play.

Suppose your population health reporting and analytics can demonstrate the need to implement your agency’s desired program. In that case, you’re more likely to not only receive the funding you request but also to have a positive impact on the community you want to help. Having the right population health management software can assist you with the following:

  • Determining the metrics you want to use to measure population health.
  • Gathering the data you need.
  • Putting the information together to analyze it.
  • Creating a report that details how you can impact community health positively.

Another benefit is that the information you gather makes communicating with your managed care organization (MCO) easier and helps you improve aspects of the triple aim of health care. Because the MCO is paying for the care your organization provides, the MCO will receive justification for offering these funds when it sees that your services are doing good for the community. The more data you give them, the more likely the MCO will want to work with your agency. This improved communication can result in more referrals to your program and increase your caseload.

What Metrics Should You Use in Population Health Analytics?

Many factors affect the health of a population. It’s essential to use population health data analytics to get the larger picture of the overall health of the people within the community your agency serves. Often, health is related to more than one aspect of individuals’ lives, such as the amount of money they make and the health care services available to them based on their income and ability to pay for those services.

The following are some population health metrics your organization can use to determine the health of the community:

Economic Factors

The economy plays a significant role in the health a community enjoys. Individuals who don’t need to worry about how they will pay their bills or get their next meal can focus on other areas, like eating healthy and getting enough exercise. This rationale makes economic factors an integral part of population health management analytics. For example, if many people in the population your organization serves are experiencing homelessness, this situation could negatively impact the community’s overall health.

A homeless population often faces many mental health challenges that can affect others in the community and contribute to stress on the rest of the population. Using the economy as a population health metric can help analyze at-risk populations.

Education Factors

Like the economy, the education level of the people in a community can provide a sound basis for determining the health of a population. Research suggests that adults with a higher level of education tend to live longer and experience less harmful and potentially life-threatening diseases. Therefore, improving education in areas where people suffer from various health issues can benefit the health of those in that area. By understanding the overall education levels of a population, your organization can begin to analyze who may be at risk for concerns like mental health issues.

Environmental Factors

The environment is another population health analytics tool that can help your agency understand the current health of the people in the community. Topics like air pollution and poor water quality can negatively affect the health of people in an area. These environmental factors are crucial in how well people feel physically and mentally. Other environmental factors include exposure to drug or alcohol abuse in the home or domestic violence that can affect an individual’s mental health and safety. These environmental situations can cause undue stress that can lead to health issues.

Health Outcome Factors

Health outcome metrics consider how often a person becomes re-admitted to the hospital for the same health issue and whether the individual has access to the proper treatment for the condition. By measuring this metric when considering your agency’s population health management data analytics, you can understand where health services may be lacking and what your organization could do to improve the availability of treatment options and medications. This metric also looks at the safety of the medical services provided and how quickly a person can see a doctor or health care provider.

How Do You Gather Population Health Analytics?

Several trends in human services are changing the field, including how we gather and analyze data on population health. Over the last several years, many population health analytics companies have surfaced to help those in the human services industry manage the data they gather. While gathering vital data using population health analytics software is becoming more manageable, you’ll need to create a population health dashboard that can separate the data for you in a way that makes it simple to use and analyze.

Consider these steps before you begin the process of searching for population health analytics solutions for your organization:

Form a Team

Forming a team, also called a health care collaborative, is the first step in gathering data. You’ll want to do this step before you gather data or decide on the metrics you want to analyze. You still have time to form a team if you’ve already started collecting data. Include people on the team from different departments, as they’ll each have insight into what information can help you create the best possible program. Ensure that everyone on the team understands the goals of the analytics, and you can provide feedback to the team for constant improvement.

Define the Data

Have the team define the data. Defining the data means each aspect of the data your agency collects and analyzes needs a clear definition and category. For example, if you’re collecting data on environmental factors, you’ll need the team to decide what constitutes access to clean water.

  • Do community members have clean water in their homes?
  • Can they get clean water within their neighborhood?
  • Are they required to purchase clean water?

Everyone must understand what “clean water” means to ensure that all the data analyzed uses the same definition. This cohesiveness eliminates errors and ambiguity in measuring your analytics and is necessary for most of the data the team analyzes.

Assign Owners

When your team is analyzing data, the data may come from more than one source. Knowing who owns the data is essential, especially if you switch population health analytics vendors or collaboration team members at some point during your analysis process. You can assign owners if you need to clarify who owns the data your team is analyzing, but be sure that everyone has a clear picture of the hierarchy of data ownership so that no issues arise when presenting or using the data.

Create Reports

Once you have a health collaborative team in place, team members have defined the data, and the data is assigned, you can start analyzing the metrics and creating reports. You’ll want to organize the information in a logical format and pull out the data that’s relevant to your goal. If you’re trying to understand and reduce homelessness, you may want to include economic factors in your report, as homelessness significantly impacts a population’s health. You can create more than one report using a variety of population health analytics examples.

Monitor Outcomes

Your agency can use the data you collect to analyze population health and create beneficial health programs. Once the programs you establish are in place, you’ll want to monitor their outcomes to determine whether they’ve had the desired effect on the population your organization serves. You can then use the metrics to analyze the results and fine-tune the program to provide the best possible service. There’s always room for improvement, and analytics can help your organization create programs that continuously improve.

How Can Software Help With Population Health Analytics?

Human services software can be the solution to your population health analytics needs. With the right population health analytics tools, your agency can create a dashboard that separates data into easy-to-read tables and charts that help you see the big picture without having to sort through all the data yourself. The right program can even take data from multiple sources and put it together in one place for you to access quickly. This organization of data makes it much easier to see how your organization has benefited the community’s health and what areas need improvement.

If your organization is seeking funding to implement a new program, being audited, or requiring reimbursement for services provided, population analytics software can help. These elements require you to demonstrate your past or potential success to justify payments, so you’ll need to provide analytics data that shows your agency has accomplished its goals or that the goals are attainable. Population health analytics can also help determine how your agency can better assist the at-risk population in the community. Viewing the data from a holistic perspective can ensure you’re considering overall community health.

Having the right human services software for your organization means you can gather the data you need to assess population health analytics that can help the community. Are you looking for an analytics program specifically for the human services field? Discover what Foothold Technology offers. Our human services software can assist your agency with treatment planning, client tracking, case management, and more. Contact us to find out if our program is right for your organization.