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How Can Kansas Hospitals and Health Systems Engage in Population Health? (October 2018)

Findings from the Population Health Survey of Kansas Hospitals, 2018

By Tatiana Y. Lin, M.A., Karen Braman, RPh, M.S. (KHA) | October 22, 2018

How Can Kansas Hospitals and Health Systems Engage in Population Health? (October 2018)

READ IT HERE — How Can Kansas Hospitals and Health Systems Engage in Population Health?

The focus on population health has become increasingly important as Kansas demographics, health care delivery and reimbursement are changing. Kansas is becoming older and more diverse racially and ethnically, and the population of Kansans in rural areas is declining. In addition, care has transitioned from an inpatient setting to an outpatient setting, and payers are moving toward reimbursement based on value of care versus volume of services. As a result, hospitals are under increasing pressure to identify how to meet the needs of their communities while staying fiscally viable. Some hospitals across the country are tackling these challenges by becoming more engaged in population health.

The Kansas Health Institute (KHI) and the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA) collaborated on a population health initiative to assess the engagement of Kansas hospitals and health systems in population health and identify resource needs for this work. As part of the initiative, a survey was conducted to better understand the efforts of Kansas hospitals in the area of population health, including definitions of population health, strategies utilized, benefits and challenges. The survey was distributed to CEOs of the 124 KHA member hospitals on May 3, 2018. A total of 88 survey responses were received, and 57 sufficiently complete survey responses were retained for analysis as the survey closed on June 10, 2018.

Key points from this report include:

  • Three-quarters (75.5 percent) of respondents who participated in the survey agreed or strongly agreed their hospital should focus on addressing the health of populations beyond patients. 
  • “Improve health of the community” and “reduce readmissions” were identified by respondents as the strongest incentives for addressing population health.
  • “Available funding” was identified by respondents as the main challenge associated with addressing social and economic factors in the community such as housing and transportation.
  • A higher proportion of respondents implemented population health efforts in the areas of “access to health care” and “access to physical activity,” while a lower proportion of respondents implemented efforts in the areas of “housing” and “environmental quality in the community.”
  • More hospitals tended to engage in activities focused on providing referrals to community services, and fewer respondents implemented activities that involved advocating for policies.
  • To advance population health, respondents indicated that hospitals will need assistance identifying funding sources for covering this work and training on evidence-based strategies.

The Kansas Health Institute (KHI) delivers objective information, conducts credible research, and supports civil dialogue enabling policy leaders to make informed health policy decisions that enhance their effectiveness as champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.