Population Health Management Becoming a Priority for Providers, but Many Struggle With Stop-Gap Solutions and Lack of Infrastructure, Says Latest Black Book Survey

​Black Book’s most recent report on the state of population health management (PHM) reveals that it is among the fastest-growing areas in the healthcare IT space and several effective end-to-end solutions emerging. Record PHM spending underscores its increasing importance with a reported $8B invested in digital health in sum in 2016, with the majority going to population health and patient experience tools. 

But even as PHM solutions are quickly becoming a priority for healthcare organizations, in Q1 2017, 81% of providers are tackling population health projects without a strategic technology purchase that meets all their needs.

Nearly a third of those providers are using value-added tools from their EHR vendor as a stop-gap solution.

Moreover, the majority of hospitals (83%) and physicians (86%) responding to the Black Book survey state their community health information exchanges (HIEs) are still too insufficient or simply not operating at the point where they solve the reliable data needs of population health modeling.

There have been many recent mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the healthcare IT space this past year aimed at achieving end-to-end PHM and value-based care (VBC) solution offerings. “We’re also seeing consultants utilizing the M&A strategy to beef up their EHR, interoperability and data analytics bases, as well as the merging of some consulting firms and PHM companies, and company rebranding to maximize focus on PHM solutions,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book Research.

“In order to maximize the value and benefits of a PHM solution, it is imperative that providers and payers master the art of data capture,” said Brown. “Collecting continuous data on whole populations, from the sick to the healthy, will help fuel the immense data appetite for next-generation PHM solutions.”

Clinical data has previously been mostly limited to EHRs, which is why it’s no surprise that six of the top 20 PHM vendors are EHRs with two-thirds of the installs represented in this survey.

Historically, EHR clinical data consisted mostly of health snapshots during doctor and/or hospital visits. “As PHM solutions continue to grow, there will be a concurrent expansion in all the different ways of gathering clinical data at the point of care (POC) and in near-real time,” said Brown.

Also on the rise are solutions that utilize both claims and clinical data to identify at-risk patients, help locate missing or inconsistent clinical documentation, and enhance collaboration between providers, patients and payers. “As payment models continue to shift toward value and payers and providers assume greater risk, they will need tools to help improve collaboration and communication as they work to meet the Triple Aim (improve patient satisfaction and care quality while reducing unnecessary cost),” said Brown.

“Next generation PHM will not be achieved via old-school directives to cut staff, slash expenses, and pushing PHM work with the lowest-cost tech vendor,” said Brown. “The new era of how providers get paid is going to impact the entire organization, and most hospitals aren’t remotely prepared for it.”

Black Book measured end-to-end capabilities of PHM vendors on six criteria of functionality – six for non EHR vendors and four for EHR vendors as the majority of best-of-breed/non EHR vendors focus entirely or primarily on big data and analytics. Ten Core EHR population health solutions and thirty best of breed PHM software vendors are covered in the survey reports available through Black Book. Additionally, fifteen Population Health and Value Based Care consulting and advisory firms are reviewed in a supplemental report.

6,607 respondents from physicians practice, hospitals, health systems and chains, ACOs, IDNs and IPAs responded over the last nine months of 2016 to measure vendor performance in eighteen Black Book key performance, satisfaction and usability indicators specific to the population health and value based care solutions. The top rated PHM and value based care technology solutions based on user experience include:


1.     Allscripts

2.     Cerner

3.     Epic


1.     IBM Watson Health

2.     Evolent Valence

3.     The Advisory Board

4.     Optum

5.     Philips Wellcentive

6.     Cardigm

Reimbursement reforms, accountable care and complex claim management are areas of PHM creating significant opportunities for upstarts of hundreds of boutique, independent and niche RCM consultants, in response to the surge in the PHM engagement trajectory. Here are the top PHM vendors, according to the Black Book report based on survey results on twenty PHM consultant-specific key performance indicators:


1.     Premier

2.     The Advisory Board

3.     Evolent Valence

4.     Deloitte

5.     Optum

6.     Accenture

Other key findings of the survey include:

Organizations on the transition path to PHM must prioritize three foundational elements, according to survey respondents:

1.     Information-powered clinical decision making (98%);

2.     Primary care-led clinical workforce (96%); and

3.     Patient engagement and community integration (93%).

90% of all surveyed decision makers on hiring an external consultancy agree that they prefer an advisor with both Population Health Management and Revenue Cycle Management expertise in 2017. Of the 58 PHM head-hunting firms contacted by Black Book, about one-half claim they are currently experiencing difficulties finding qualified PHM process experts to fill open positions, and 90% anticipate longer searches ahead for next generation-qualified PHM staff as the industry confronts PHM expert shortages through the next year. "A big reason why consultants will be experiencing this surge of PHM and VBC engagements is the lack of qualified PHM leaders compounded by the confusion of already-owned technologies that most provider organizations can't optimize on their own," said Brown.

Hospital executives primarily attribute the increased demand for PHM advisory services on several factors out of their scope of current experience:

●      77% have no strategic plan activated for transforming PHM or value-based care solutions end-to-end to confront known deadlines because there are no internal experts identified;

●      Of the 84% stating they are either acquiring, replacing either (or all) PHM IT solutions, vendors, current service delivery processes or outsourcers within the next 12-18 months, less than 20% of hospitals have begun comprehensive vendor selection activities and 79% are considering external consultants to assist them;

●      89% of CFOs confirm they are confident that the hospital does have the appropriate FTEs budgeted for PHM transformation activities; and

●      80% of CIOs responding to the survey state they do not have the information technology or staff in-house needed to transform PHM end-to-end as their executive team envisions.


Full reports on the three categories of PHM solutions and services can be acquired through Black Book's website wwww.blackbookmarketresearch.com ​

About Black Book

Black Book™, its founders, management and staff do not own or hold any financial interest in any of the vendors covered and encompassed in the surveys it conducts. Black Book reports the results of the collected satisfaction and client experience rankings in publication and to media prior to vendor notification of rating results and does not solicit vendor participation fees, review fees, inclusion or briefing charges, and/or vendor collaboration as Black Book polls vendors’ clients.  Black Book utilizes the ballot validation services of two independent survey respondent validation firms: TrueSample for mobile poll responses and RelevantID for online poll responses.

Since 2000, Black Book™ has polled the vendor satisfaction across over thirty industries in the software/technology and managed services sectors around the globe. In 2009, Black Book began polling the client experience of now over 540,000 healthcare software and services users. Black Book expanded its survey prowess and reputation of independent, unbiased crowd-sourced surveying to IT and health records professionals, physician practice administrators, nurses, financial leaders, executives and hospital information technology managers. Users participated in the 2016 polls of population health, care coordination, patient engagement and analytics client experience in a sweeping fifteen month set including eight separate surveys and studies.

For methodology, auditing, resources, comprehensive research and ranking data

also see www.blackbookmarketresearch.com

Source: Black Book Research LLC