Health IT

Here’s what Meditech is up to in the population health space (Q&A)

During a recent interview, Meditech Executive Vice President Hoda Sayed-Friel outlined what the EHR vendor is doing in the population health space, as well as why such initiatives are important.

Composite image of a large group of diverse people smiling

Population health is a broad term. While it encompasses so much, it is also crucial to the future of healthcare. Hospitals and researchers are doing their part to contribute to pop health initiatives, but what how are EHR vendors chiming in?

During a recent phone interview, Meditech Executive Vice President Hoda Sayed-Friel, who oversees the company’s strategic direction, discussed how and why the vendor is getting involved such efforts.

This exchange has been lightly edited.

As an EHR vendor, why is population health important to Meditech?

A key element of population health is to understand what’s happening in our communities and figure out how to change the course of healthcare. It’s important for us to understand the implications of chronic illnesses and underserved areas.

What is Meditech is currently working on in the population health field?

When we think about the recent changes in CMS and moving from fee-for-service to value-based care, the key element of the whole movement is about making sure the biggest payer in the industry — CMS — is going to be reimbursing folks for their outcomes.

What we’ve done is multitiered.

First, you can’t understand full outcomes if you don’t have the full depth of all the care venues a patient might go. We have a full EHR across the entire continuum. Right now, our system can bring all that data into a centralized spot.

Secondly, for any of the data where patients might have left the network, we bring it in. We bring in data from CMS, other payers and other EMRs to marry it with the data we have in our electronic health record.

There are a bunch of things we have done to look at that patient data. One is patient registries. We are able to basically create registries for different types of patients, like COPD patients. Caregivers can take a look at those elements and let us know how well they’re doing managing that chronic condition.

To complement the registry, when we start thinking about patient outcomes, a lot of work happens when a patient goes to the hospital or ED, but not enough is being paid attention to when they’re on their own. We’re making sure we can send patients home with monitoring devices, and the data from those devices goes to our patient-generated health data cloud. We grab that information and run it through our algorithms to determine whether we want to move them up higher on the priority list or send a home care nurse to them.

The gist of our perspective on population health is that where other vendors have spent the majority of their time looking at the financial side of this, we came at it from the care side.

Part of the next part of this is what we give the consumer. We do have a patient portal, and we’ve created it as an app. It allows patients not only to become active participants in their care, but also look at their own trends and see how they’re doing.

On the analytics side, we have this huge data warehouse that every single one of our facilities has their instance of. What we’ve done is provide them with pre-created dashboards of slicing and dicing these populations. You can actually drill down to the individual patient level.

How can data EHRs be used for population health purposes?

Part of the next step is that we’re able to analyze the information all of our customers are getting from our EHR. The aggregate of all that information can be used for artificial intelligence and taking a look at cross sections of hundreds of thousands of patients.

Despite everything else going on in the healthcare arena, why is population health gaining momentum?

The main point of it is that’s how they’re going to get reimbursed. If you’ve historically watched how healthcare has responded, it’s in direct response to how they’re going to get paid.

CMS can call it MIPS, MACRA or whatever it wants, but in the end, what they’re really saying is, “I’m giving you money to keep my patients healthy or at least from getting any sicker.”

What does the future of population health initiatives look like for Meditech?

For Meditech, what we’ll be doing is continuing to augment in all these areas, and then working to make sure that as data becomes available from a variety of sources, that we’re able to incorporate it.

We know a lot of conditions and predispositions are governed by people’s genetic makeup. We’re doing a lot in the area of pharmacogenomics. Right now, a lot of genetic information might be living in or 23andMe. How do we marry the data from those places into the EHR? Interoperability is key to the future of how we solve that.

On the horizon, we’re seeing how EHR vendors are good at selling their products to providers. Consumer-based companies like Google, Amazon and Apple are good at selling to the consumer market. If we can marry our apps with … the research [consumer-based companies have] done in how to encourage people, it would be an interesting place for us to move to.

Photo: PeopleImages, Getty Images