Pop health programs not seeing expected growth, survey finds
Health organizations aren't keeping pace with population health objectives and are falling behind competitors, according to Numerof & Associates’ third annual State of Population Health survey.
The two previous surveys predicted population health programs would see a “dramatic increase” in the percentage of annual revenue that would be at risk in the next two years, but the most recent survey found that hasn't happened. More than 50% percent of respondents said less than 10% of their revenue came through risk-based agreements.
The report also found that most respondents said they’re not “very prepared” to take on risk.
The survey was of 400 executives across the healthcare system in urban, suburban and rural areas in the U.S. The results showed that expected progress has yet to be seen.
In the 2015 survey, 59% of respondents predicted they would be “very prepared” to take on risk in 2017. However, the new 2017 survey found that only 21% actually achieved that goal. That said, 95% of respondents believe population health is the future.
“The shift in the business model has proven difficult for many to achieve due to institutional hurdles and concerns over financial losses,” Rita Numerof, president of Numerof & Associates, said.
The report said population health momentum is slower than expected and taking on risk is complicated. The survey found 70% of respondents said the risk-based contracts are experimental. Looking ahead, respondents predicted the next two years will bring 15% of revenue growth coming from at-risk agreements. Nearly 60% acknowledged that their organizations are average or worse than average when it comes to management in cost variation.
Michael Abrams, managing partner of Numerof & Associates, warned that hospitals hedging their bets by “experimenting at the margins with at-risk payment models underestimate the importance of moving up the experience curve.”
“Accountability for cost and quality is inevitable, and the sooner a commitment is made, the sooner the necessary competencies will be developed,” he said.
Population health is seen as one way to improve outcomes and lower costs. There are still questions about whether it can actually save money in the long run. However, a recent Health Affairs study found that a population health program that improves healthcare access and takes into account social determinants of health reduced emergency department and inpatient care and lowered costs.
Numerof & Associates' survey, though including only 400 responses, should serve as a reminder that for all the talk about the movement to value-based care and population health, noticeable improvement will actually require organizations to change some practices. As the survey shows, some just aren't ready.
- Numerof & Associates Numerof State of Population Health Survey