Mixing the Whiz Bang with the 1950’s -The Jefferson Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium

This past week I  attended the Jefferson Population Health and Care Coordination Colloquium put on by David Nash, MD and his team at the Jefferson School of Population Health.  For those who don’t know, the Jefferson School of Population Health is the first designated School of Population Health in the country and David its founding Dean. The School is dedicated to the exploration of policies and forces that determine the health and quality of life of populations, locally, nationally, and globally.

This years Colloquium which runs concurrently with the Medical Home Summit drew over 600 people and was an exciting 2 1/2 days  of interesting presentations ranging from  Jeffrey Kang, MD, Senior Vice President, Health and Wellness Solutions, Walgreens, discussing their new Accountable Care Organizations and some of the efforts they are making to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the food deserts through their pharmacies, to Ahmed Ghouri, MD, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Anvita Health discussing Big Data. There were many very good presentations covering a broad range of topics.

My two favorites were

by Jeffery Brenner, MD , Medical Director, Urban Health Institute at Cooper University Health Care; Executive Director, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, and Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, the LDI Senior Fellow, Professor of Medicine and Health Care Management, LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Health, University of Pennsylvania.

Dr.  Brenner  presented on Innovation in the Public Sector — Managing High Risk Patients in a Multi-Payer ACO Model. Which touched on a multitude of things ranging from Hotspotting to community based approaches.  The best line of the conference was his when he went through a list of attributes to explain what was going to put hospitals out of business and ended it by saying “A Nurse.”.

Dr. Volpp  presented first-rate data on Behavioral Economic Interventions to Improve Health. He really demonstrated the importance of using Behavioral economics as the lever to change the irrational behavior people demonstrate when making health decisions. It’s not about the size of the incentive as much as using proper behavioral incentives if you want to get results.

It was interesting to note that a number of presentations were on community based models. This is an area near and dear to my heart from my days as the Founder of Specialty Disease Management Services which provided community based disease management programs, mostly to Medicaid programs. It seems that maybe these high touch, intensive community efforts built upon the 1950s public health model may be seeing a renaissance. I use to call our work “digging in the mud”, a low tech high touch way to give help to members that really works.

So it dawned on me could the melding of all of the whiz bang new technology, mHealth, integrated medical information, and big data analytics with the 50s based community public health approach be the model that finally creates scalable population health improvement?  The melding of old and new who’d of thunk it. Personally, I believe there is some great potential here and hope to see and hear more about companies and groups trying this approach.

By the way another good conference is CCA Forum coming up in October which is put on by the Care Continuum Alliance.  Hope to see you there.


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