7 May 2019
Brian Waters, chief executive of Graphnet Health
This is a watershed moment for population health management in the UK. The NHS Long Term Plan, the expanding LCHR programme and the proposed countrywide network of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) create the financial, organisational and policy framework to take pop health mainstream.
Things are moving fast. It’s only recently that we have started to realise the potential for using NHS, social care and patient-recorded information safely and intelligently to understand the health needs of a population.
But population health is much more than a data playground for data scientists. It promises fantastic operational benefits, in terms of:
It also comes with significant new challenges – such as not clogging the entire health system in a morass of data and information.
Three essentials for the ICS leadership team committed to change
So, what might all this mean for an ICS leadership team?
The focus now should be to identify programmes of work to drive improvements.
Any population health management solution worth its salt should deliver value in three key areas:
Longitudinal maps of the health and care system and the patient flow through it can help us diagnose where individual patients are not receiving optimal care (wrong combination of drugs, missed tests etc) and also where there are systemic failures. With cohort mapping, we can look at parallel pathways and analyse where changes could improve outcomes or reduce costs.
A linked longitudinal dataset allows for forward-facing as well as retrospective analysis. So it is possible to establish the metrics by which you will judge a service change, identifying cohorts to monitor against and embedding the metrics in dashboards. Commissioners can study the downstream impact of a new community service for COPD patients, for example, based on looking at what happened before and comparing the new pathways of care.
Much population health discussion has tended to focus on predicting an individual’s behaviour and its impact on health outcomes. Our approach at Graphnet, developed in partnership with our customers, involves predicting impact on the healthcare system and patient groups:
All this requires partnership – between suppliers, researchers, clinicians and managers. Most of all, though, it requires strong operational leadership - focused individuals, committed to driving change, and with the ability to act on the insights population health provides.
Brian Waters, CEO of Graphnet Health