Population Health Management For Older Adults: A Brief Guide
The health of communities is believed to be influenced by many factors such as socio-economic dynamics, geography, accessibility, general economic and political situations, and the like. Population health management is said to be crucial to assist a specific population, older individuals in this scenario, in the varying health environments that they may be a part of. Here’s a brief guide on health management for older adults.
What Is Population Health Management
Population health management is the discipline of studying and implementing steps to improve a particular population's health, in this case, the older adults.
Population health aligns strongly with public health and the goal is to accelerate community health and protect the community by setting public policies, health education campaigns, as well as disease prevention methods. Some of the strategies that are included in population health management include:
Chronic Disease Management
As one gets older, chronic disease may become more apparent. Chronic diseases include diabetes, varied heart conditions, and high blood pressure. Population health management means providing education, tools, pastimes, and equipment to help the affected manage the illness daily through specific habits and lifestyle changes.
Holistic wellness is encouraged from the onset of younger years as this is an investment in the quality of life when one progresses in age. Population health management is the strategy where wellness practices are encouraged well into the adult years or in the event where people lead quality compromised lives in the younger years; lifestyle changes are introduced, monitored, and evaluated by qualified and competent health teams.
Clinical networking includes the integration of primary care physicians, doctors, nurses, specialists, and suppliers to create systems that improve patient care. For such integrated systems to work to the best intention of the patient, there needs to be a reliable and vast database. The database needs information about the patient's geography, illness, habits, diet, medicine types, and times to take medicine.
Data Collection Is Key
When it comes to population health management, data collection of the population in question is essential. Having identified the population, such as older adults in a specific geographic location or ethnicity, detailed information is required for effective treatment and prevention health methods to be implemented. Some of the methods that can be used by organizations involved in population health management include:
Utilization of Apps
Population health entities make it possible to collect data about the target population simultaneously. Apps make it possible to build and analyze the trends of the individuals in question. Such strategies make it possible to identify health problems before they occur or to intervene sooner.
The fact that the patients themselves get to analyze data regarding their health by using the app, they too are in control of their lifestyle and steps needed to reach wellness.
Participation observation means going within the population and observing their lifestyle, habits, conversations, and decision-making skills which directly affect their health.
Population health entities can recruit and dispatch research teams to visit different population groups like elderly homes. By spending time in the elderly homes, they analyze the dietary patterns and note down dynamics such as eating times, amounts, and type of food.
Such information is important when managing and diagnosing illnesses such as high blood pressure which is common among the elderly. The research team can also observe and record the fitness levels of the elderly in the home, the types of exercises that are encouraged in the home, and the frequency.
The disadvantage of using participant observation as an initial data collection strategy is that it's time-consuming and demands costs such as accommodation, food, transport, and payment for the research teams. It’s time-consuming but intermittent, meaning by the time the research team returns to the elderly home, for instance, certain habits or trends would have changed, and they wouldn't have been present to record these.
As a data collection strategy, focus groups may provide more in-depth and slightly more accurate information than mere observation. In the example of the elderly home, the research teams can hold focus groups of eight with the elderly in the home and a separate focus group with the health care providers.
The discussions they hold can give insight into dynamics such as living arrangements, activities, and mental wellness approaches implemented in the home. Discussion topics will have to be specifically aligned to the desired information required for the use of population health management by the particular entity in question.
Like participant observation methods, focus groups are also time-consuming and costly, involving physical execution costs.
Surveys and Questionnaires
Surveys and questionnaires are other methods for population health management data collection. This involves dispatching uniform questions to various elderly homes targeted at the service providers. They’re the ones in a position to answer questions such as dietary measurements and psychological evaluation assessments administered at the elderly home.
The downside to questionnaires and surveys is that they require people to set aside time out of their busy schedules. This means they might not prioritize the surveys and questionnaires and may eventually forget to fill them in.
Strategize And Execute Tailor-Made Treatment Plans
Having gathered relevant data from the population, population health management entities, and stakeholders such as doctors and suppliers; can form tailor-made treatment plans for the groups in question. Case in point, if high blood pressure and stress were recorded as the highest health concerns in the elderly's home, treatment plans that focus on medication can be implemented.
If the teams involved deduce from the data that high blood pressure directly correlates to stress levels, the treatment has to revolve around methods required to reduce stress levels. This may be in the form of introducing nature retreats, as it’s assumed that nature helps to lower stress levels. It can be in the form of playing classical music in the background as it's also believed to aid in boosting mood.
Depending on the data, observations, and inferences made during the collection period, a tailor-made intervention approach would work best for the patients.
Patient Outreach and Engagement
Patient outreach and engagement are the processes. In the population health management entities, you go into the communities where you'd have collected data and executed tailor-made health strategies. Speaking directly with the patients and their caregivers and medical partners is the only way you can assess whether or not there is a direct positive impact on the patients from the strategies implemented. Some of the outreach conversations can include:
Before and After Assessment
Conversations that can focus during the outreach include finding out whether the patients have enjoyed any health transformations since the implementation of various treatment plans.
If the treatment plan's focus was to improve the general mental wellness of the elderly in the home, they could share the different activities they have to take part in and how these make them experience their daily lives.
The conversations shouldn't only be directed toward positive outcomes where patients who feel there could be improvement will help entities improve their execution from data to implementation.
Patients should feel that population health management entities genuinely care for their wellbeing. They shouldn't feel that entities merely dispatch apps and research teams to gather data, implement strategies, and never check in again.
During outreach and engagement, stakeholders involved can discuss patient self-care tips. For example, if mental wellness is a point of focus, mental self-help tips such as positive thinking, affirmation readings, and breathing techniques; are just some ways that the patients can apply mental wellness hacks throughout the day. Some conversations may leave an impact beyond the formal strategies implemented within the homes.
Discussing the patients' individual health goals helps motivate them to stick to the treatment plants. Implementing treatment plans is one milestone, but getting the adults to follow the plan is another dynamic. Instead of mechanical and digital monitoring of treatment success, the one-on-one conversations help both the entities and the patients understand why the process is unfolding the way it is; and how to map the way forward to holistic health.
Community Health Goals
Generally speaking, the older people get, the stronger their sense of community is. They begin to appreciate the company they have left after children leave the house and after having to bid farewell to those who have transitioned.
Speaking about the different entities' health goals on the board, such as health development programs, discussion forums, or wellness groups, helps them become positively involved in the process. They may voluntarily give information you may need about their community and get involved in the implementation processes as active residents.
Population health management aims to improve healthcare among communities. It takes several stakeholders to implement the betterment of holistic communal health. At the core of population health management is accurate and descriptive data of the targeted population. Whether digitally or traditionally, data can be collected depending on budget, time, and population size.
Having collected data, the information has to be used to tailor-make health treatment plans. The more tailored the plans depending on the target population, the more effective the strategy. Once the treatment plans are in effect, outreach and engagement programs are essential to assess just how effective the plans are.
Seeing that the goal is to improve joint health, the interactions will help determine whether this has been achieved or not, together with statistics. Only then can strategies to improve the population health management strategies be implemented.