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Collaboration is a main ingredient to successful execution within population health management. Recently, C-Level leaders within the health industry- such as CMOs, CMIOs, CIOs, Population Health VPs- met during a Population Health Exchange to discuss the strategic priorities of the population health field. The exchange is a yearly event run by HealthLeaders Media Exchange, a provider of healthcare business intelligence.

The two core values leading the Exchanges are that “health system leaders trust their peers more than any other source when facing industry challenges; and that, because those challenges evolve every year, [The Exchange] programs must allow the members to customize the dialogue.” Four key themes emerged from the event, which constituted a small, conference-format focused on encouraging open dialogue and deep networking:

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Innovation makes it challenging to track return on investment (ROI)
According to sources, despite sharing a robust entrepreneurial focus in several healthcare organizations, the unstructured nature of innovation stemming from this entrepreneurial spirit can be difficult to quantify within ROI. One vice president of strategic planning, research and transformation for a large mid-Atlantic healthcare organization, for example, was cited as saying that an innovative care solution created by a faculty member at their organization may require unfunded time and administrative support not represented as a cost within the budget. Therefore, it’s difficult to determine ROI, particularly since the research and administrative time of physicians is not well tracked.

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Legal and regulatory costs are often unknown
The complexity surrounding compliance was another major theme reported from the health system counsel. Most organizations continued to express caution when addressing new compliance issues. But erring on the side of caution, as conference guests reported, can lead to added costs, including losses from stalled or halted projects.

660-Pop-Health-BLOG-NUMBERS-3.jpgToo many pilot projects lead to inefficiencies
To fix this issue, one solution discussed at the conference was to try to “diversify the pilot projects into various markets.” Additionally, the importance of fast tracking implementations was stressed as a way of avoiding project bottlenecks.

660-Pop-Health-BLOG-NUMBERS-4.jpgCreate a culture that embraces calculated risk
The fear of failure is common across all industries, and with all people. However, in healthcare, the need to create a top-down culture of accepting calculated risks is crucial for driving innovation and solutions.

It’s a given that some pilot projects will fail, but that is okay because others will succeed, and trying new things is the only way to discover previously unknown efficiencies. Leadership needs to work to create a culture that embraces an environment of change where innovators can learn from their mistakes without fear of repercussions.

By the conclusion of the Population Health Exchange conference, it was clear that collaboration is now the main ingredients needed for the successful execution of innovative projects within population health management. Collaboration is the key to successfully deploying new, innovative solutions while also helping to weed out inefficient or weak programs which are no longer effective in today’s modern healthcare environment.


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Sarah Shillington has more than 20 years of solid healthcare IT experience with particular expertise in developing strategy and tactics in the areas of executive level operations, professional services, consulting, and account management. She has more than 16 years of EHR services implementation experience, providing strong and effective leadership to clients and partners. She has assisted over 70 EHR installations and is the recipient of McKesson’s prestigious Pinnacle Award for innovation in early customer distance learning programs