In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Dr. Mania Brusca talks about population health management. She explains how interoperability and data exchange help both patients and health care providers.
Dr. Brusca, what is meant by population health management?
Dr. Mania Brusca: Population health management refers to the collection and use of patient data across various health information technology resources to help improve clinical health outcomes and derive respective financial and care models for a defined group of individuals. It is based on data that is collected by physicians, hospitals or by patients who self-record information at home. The term is more widespread in the USA compared to Germany. German healthcare primarily works with data silos. However, the Hospital Future Act (Krankenhauszukunftsgesetz, KHZG) aims to modernize the system and promotes intersectoral networking. That being said, we still have a long way to go in this setting.
What kind of individual measures does this entail?
Brusca: This requires data pooling where data from different sources is combined. Philips manages this via an interoperability platform that links everyone who is involved in the care process, which includes physicians in private practice or hospitals. Patients can actively collaborate and self-collect data via apps and wearables or patient-reported outcome measurements.
This makes patient care more efficient as it avoids overtreatment or undertreatment: Doctors can use this data to identify patients they see too often and those who truly need more frequent attention, whether via telemedicine or in-person visits. Private practice physicians in the Netherlands implement this approach, for example.
What changes would this necessitate in the German health system?
Brusca: We initially must improve intersectoral networking to create a patient database in the first place.
The next step would be to establish payment incentives in healthcare that are based on health and health outcomes and not on delivered care quantity, using patient-recorded outcome measurements as a foundation. So far, value-based reimbursement models are not yet widespread in the market.
What are the opportunities that lie ahead thanks to the Hospital Future Act?
Brusca: All qualified digitization measures must meet interoperable health data exchange standards, which build the foundation for data exchange platforms. The individual components - for example, the use of cloud computing or the implementation of a patient portal – also allow hospitals to be more agile in their organization. It enables innovative treatment methods and empowers patients to be more actively engaged in the care process.