Population health has been a big topic of conversation for Northeast Tennessee with the recent approval of the merger of Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System, forming the new Ballad Health.
What is population health? Wikipedia states that “population health has been defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group. It is an approach to health that aims to improve the health of an entire human population.”
With a greater emphasis on population health, hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare organizations are seeking ways to improve their data, analytics, and tracking in order to improve patient care. And that’s where companies like OnePartner come into play.
OnePartner is a healthcare technology company comprised of data experts and healthcare professionals focused on population health. OnePartner is leading the healthcare transformation, both regionally and nationally, by connecting doctors to patient data at the point of care within their existing workflow so they can take immediate action. This means that physicians can easily identify their sickest patients quickly in order to provide them with the attention and care they need to improve their health and control healthcare costs. Solutions like the OnePartner’s Health Information Exchange “HIE” and the population health tool make those efforts possible.
Right now, a large number of doctors and healthcare providers don’t share information about their patients in a way that other providers can access and use it to best support the patient’s total health. OnePartner’s platform changes the way these healthcare providers work together. The goal is to help providers support and encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient. The provider is the best person to interact with a patient to provide expertise and guidance on where they get healthcare and how they take care of themselves. The OnePartner platform gives the provider information from multiple sources about what needs to be addressed with each of their patients. This interactive platform helps providers deliver a more consistent quality of care to patients, by providing them with reminders, prompts, questions to ask, follow up, and more.
“Most of the population is in good health and don’t need to seek care as often. We focus on the patients who are chronically ill and require more frequent visits and a more hands on approach to care,” explained Wesley Combs, President of OnePartner. Combs went on to describe the different health levels that are used to define the health of a population:
Population Health Levels:
Level 1 – Healthy; only go to the doctor for preventative care visits
Level 2 – Getting sicker; have developed a chronic condition but it’s manageable
Level 3 – Body is overwhelmed with disease; have 5 or more chronic diseases. (Only 5% of population falls into this category, but they contribute to the majority of healthcare costs.)
With OnePartner, healthcare providers receive priority notifications on all Level 3 patients. This allows them to take a more proactive approach with their most at-risk patients who need a greater level of attention and care.
It seems that OnePartner is great for healthcare providers, but what about patients?
The OnePartner program is completely optional for patients to participate in. A patient may either need to opt-in to the program or opt-out of the program, depending on which healthcare provider they’re seeing. A good rule of thumb is to make sure to read all of the paperwork you’re asked to sign when visiting the doctor’s office. This is where you’ll find the information about the OnePartner HIE if offered at your chosen healthcare provider.
The benefits for patients are that they won’t have to worry about remembering to take copies of all their healthcare paperwork, lab work, scans, procedures, and medications to each and every doctor visit. Contrary to popular belief, healthcare providers don’t typically communicate with one another about the care they provide to a shared patient. However, once you’re in the OnePartner HIE, all healthcare providers participating in the HIE will quickly and easily be able to access their patient’s medical history and notes from across the community of care.
Better communication means less duplication of services and procedures, which reduces a patient’s healthcare costs since they’re not paying for these time and time again. Being part of the OnePartner HIE also improves the overall quality of care a patient receives from his or her doctor. Healthcare providers are able to take a more proactive, comprehensive and individualized approach to each of their patient’s healthcare needs. OnePartner solutions identify gaps in healthcare as well, allowing healthcare providers the opportunity to better care for their patients.
“Our whole team does what we do because we want our children to have better healthcare and avoid dealing with the issues we’re facing today,” said Combs.
With the merger of the two major health systems in the area, there are long-lasting effects on what OnePartner does. If Ballad Healthcare becomes a full participant in the OnePartner HIE (both contributing and accessing patient data), it would truly be an investment in the community that would create local jobs, improve local healthcare and improve population health as a whole. Currently, both Wellmont and Mountain states are contributing data to the OnePartner HIE; however, allowing the system’s healthcare providers with access to this community patient data, particularly at the Emergency Room level, would go a long way to improving the coordination of care between primary care providers in the community and the hospital system. “We want to be a partner with them to address the major concerns we’re seeing in the region.”
OnePartner is dedicated to improving population health in our region because this is their home and they have a vested interest in how the region’s overall health status affects both economic development and the overall ability of the region to thrive. President Wesley Combs had this to say about their commitment to Northeast Tennessee, “We’re a team of healthcare professionals. A majority of our staff came from ETSU and we all live here and work here. We are from this community and for this community. We want to continue to live here, work here, and stay here. We’re trying to build something this community needs. We don’t give any organization priority over anyone else. Our tools are built with the population in mind and with the community in mind, with patients first and what’s good for our clients and customers.”