January 23, 2018 | Rosemarie Day

Healthcare Dive: Providers go deeper with population health to social factors

““They’re trying to look at patients more holistically,” said Rosemarie Day, who runs consulting firm Day Health Strategies, noting examples like physicians writing prescriptions for food and then sending the patient to the hospital’s own food pantry.

Another factor: Patients with mental health challenges may have a harder time caring for themselves, especially when they have co-morbidities, Day noted. …

“If you can manage mental health issues, you actually have a big opportunity to reduce medical cost spend,” said Day, who served as chief operating officer for Massachusetts’ Medicaid program and deputy director and chief operating officer at the state’s Health Connector. …

The first piece of PHM is creating a cross-disciplinary team. Each stakeholder needs to set aside territorial hangups. Respect is needed for each stakeholder no matter their background or whether they have a medical degree. “Getting a team to truly come together and flourish to reach that ideal of a patient-centered medical center is not easy to do,” Day said.

Leaders of these efforts must become “a champion of change,” she said.

“Generally, you can throw a lot of money (at population health), but if they’re not led well and they’re poorly executed, you don’t get the results you want,” she said. …

Day believes that states and the private sector will continue to innovate. Oregon and New York both have Medicaid ACOs and Massachusetts’ Medicaid program called MassHealth will soon start its own managed care ACO. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation in October 2016 to create a payment model that added SDH variables to medical diagnoses, age and sex. …

Day said having states try these kinds of initiatives in Medicaid is a positive — as long as the federal government doesn’t cut Medicaid funding. Day doesn’t think the current administration will undermine population health, but also doesn’t think it will be a priority either.

“I don’t feel too optimistic at the moment about the national level,” she said.”

Read the full article here.