To deliver population health, providers must look beyond the EHR

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Sarah Haflett Director, Health Research Institute, PwC US December 05, 2018

EHRs are effective as a repository for clinical data but don’t have the tools yet to fully support providers’ population health efforts. More mature data models are needed to integrate other data—such as financial and supply chain systems data—to be able to perform patient stratification, which is critical to managing risk in population health.

The background

  • Only 36 percent of providers are using their EHRs for population health management, and just 13 percent strongly agree that EHRs have met their expectations for it.
  • Forty-four percent of providers are using their EHRs to warehouse their data even though EHRs are not effectively built for doing so.
  • EHRs struggle to handle the unstructured data that is collected in clinicians’ notes and to integrate data from other systems
  • Succeeding on the population health front also will require that providers understand patients’ lifestyles and the social determinants affecting their health, though an EHR generally is not poised to capture this type of information, and most clinicians do not collect it.

The data

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HRI impact analysis

A key analytics component would be a health information exchange (HIE) that allows providers to share patient data and access patients’ health histories regardless of where they received. HIEs not only can help doctors make more informed treatment decisions—such as knowing the lab tests and results a  patient has received to prevent redundant testing—but they are critical for public health analysis and research.

Providers should consider buying or acquiring data and data models through partnerships. Some providers have hired data scientists to build home-grown analytics and data models, but they recognize they can’t compete with the big EHR vendors.

Strategic implementers (i.e. organizations that made the move to EHRs as part of a broader business strategy) appear to recognize this and are more likely than other providers to say they will be using non-EHR technologies for population health in the next three years.

Where to read more

You can read more about how providers can use their EHRs as a strategic asset in HRI's report, EHRs in the New Health Economy: Essential but insufficient.

Contact us

Sarah Haflett

Director, Health Research Institute, PwC US

Benjamin Isgur

Health Research Institute Leader, PwC US

Chris Van Pelt

Principal, US Health Industries, PwC US

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