Tag Archives: Population Health

Population Health and the End of Life

“Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”
Red Foxx
 Dad and Fred
In population health we talk a lot about improving the health of those with chronic diseases, preventing other diseases and keeping the healthy people healthy, but what should population health’s role be at the end of life? In the end, even if we are wildly successful at maintaining, improving or preventing diseases and conditions, we will still face death.
If the Triple Aim is better outcomes, lower costs, and improved health of populations, how should that be applied at the end of life? I believe its role should be in ensuring dignity, education and appropriate personal decision-making.
Over three years ago my father, a physician passed away.  He had been living with Lewy Body Dementia, a form of Parkinson’s disease for almost two decades.  When first diagnosed, he made clear to us how his disease would progress and what he wanted to happen at the end.   No feeding tubes, no extraordinary measures, if he got pneumonia, he wanted no antibiotics. When his disease had really progressed and he was bed ridden in a memory care unit, post stroke and not always lucid, he did get that infection. The facility wanted him transferred to the hospital across the street where he would get treated for his pneumonia.  While they were  nervous about us not approving that based upon his Advanced Directives, they understood his wishes, worked with us and hospice and we made clear that we would not hold them in any way accountable.
The hospice service was fantastic as was the facility which allowed my mother and others to stay there with him.  During this three weeks, we would take him outside when he was able and we were there with him throughout.  It was a moving and gentle experience and I am happy to have spent that time with him, my family and some of his friends and colleagues. During this experience, not everyone in the immediate family was in agreement, or felt it was handled as they wanted, but they knew it was being done based on his clear wishes.
We all know the costs associated with healthcare at the end of life, but that is a secondary issue; it’s hard to say goodbye to someone you love. Knowing his disease and its course, we were able to prepare for a long time. Others have much less time to make decisions and say what they feel is an appropriate goodbye. This is why we should think of the how and what we want to happen for us early, and clearly discuss it with our loved ones.
Too often when the end of life is near, it’s not about the person reaching that end, but about those close to her or him, about their time with the person, perhaps their guilt, the belief that they need to do everything possible. While this may seem like the right thing to do, many times it just increases the pain and suffering of the person nearing the end of their life. In a number of instances, I have seen and discussed the guilt felt by those who had gone to great lengths to try to keep their loved one from death.  The hospitalizations, intubations, amputations, feeding tubes, more doses of chemo. Hindsight is 20/20 for better or worse.
In fact, one of the things that influenced my father and his decision, was the death of his father. He had really suffered during the last 6 months as the doctors did this and that to (for?) him in an effort to try to keep him alive.  My father had supported some of these efforts. They were not a good six months, certainly not six months worth living; in fact my grandfather on at least one occasion had stated that he was ready to die. But more was done. Back then there was little talk of options or hospice.  My father sometimes spoke of his father’s last 6 months, at times with a tinge of guilt.
With advanced directives, we have come a long way, but there is still more we need to do.
If population health is about the full continuum of care with the patient at the center, we have to ensure that end of life decisions becomes part of the discussion. That people and their loved ones are educated about their options, given an opportunity to prepare for the day, and given the support to make the decision’s as they see fit. For my Father and us, his decisions made a world of difference and the hospice and memory care unit did an incredible job taking us through this difficult time. He died and left us in peace with memories of a great man, who was loved deeply by his family and still is.
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The Jefferson Population Health Colloquium – A Full Serving of Population Health

 

Population Health continues to be a major buzzword around the healthcare industry. At the recent HiMSS 17 conference in Orlando the talk of population health was everywhere from the vendor booths to the presentations, but where does one turn to get more than just the IT focus of population health? Where can one get a sense of the breadth and depth of population health from operations to policy, current status to future state,  provider implementations, data and analytics, patient engagement, in the weeds medication adherence and wearables to large community based initiatives? In other words where can one find a full serving of all that population health is?

That place is the Jefferson Population Health Colloquium, also in its 17th year.

This year’s event features keynotes ranging from the Future of Managed Care to Good Health is Good Business: The Results of an Innovative Alignment with Physicians and Communities.

Here are just a few of the many leaders providing keynotes this year include:

The balance of keynotes can be found on the program Agenda. The range and diversity topics covered is impressive.

Digging deeper into the Colloquium’s agenda we find ‘mini-summits‘ and ‘concurrent sessions’ on day two covering the following topics:

And concurrent sessions:

The most difficult part of this conference is deciding which sessions to attend. The complete agenda is available here, and a direct registration link for full details, here.

Also on Day two will be the awarding of the Hearst Health Prize For Excellence in Population Health now in its second year, this $100,000 prize goes to……..? Check out last year’s debrief of the winner ‘Community Care of North Carolina‘.

Tuesday evening closes with an optional dinner session, but one definitely worth attending to hear from Michael Dowling and Dr. Stephen Klasko on a panel moderated by David Nash MD, MBA.  This interesting and informative panel will discuss The Future of Clinically Integrated Networks a critically important component of creating a better health system and integrating population health.

I hope to see you there.

 

 

 

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Alternative Payment Models: Yeah or Nay?

So where do we go with our healthcare system under the new administration? Will we move to Alternative Payment bundled-paymentsModels or will FFS continue? A recent study showed that bundled payments for orthopedic joint replacement appeared to be working at lowering costs while maintaining quality.

At the same time, it seems that Dr. Tom Price, the nominee for Secretary of HHS is not a fan of bundled payment.

Along with Gregg Masters and Doug Goldstein, we’ll be exploring some of these and many other issues about the next phase of healthcare reform during the coming months on PopHealth Week.

Let us know what you think.

 

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PopHealth Week is a Production of Health Innovation Media and Accountable Health, LLC.

 

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Humana Bold Goal Launched in Jacksonville, Florida – a Call to Action

This is the longer original piece with all the links and images that  was the genesis for the Florida Times Union commentary.

This past month I had the opportunity to participate during Humana’s  half-day Bold Goal launch conference in Jacksonville, Florida (the county seat is Jacksonville and there has been a consolidated government of Duval County since 1968, so some refer to the broader county).  The conference had excellent presentations and I was honored to be included with a distinguished group of panelists from the Health Department, hospitals, providers of care and the Duval County Medical Society. It was nice to be involved in an event and try to play a role in improving the health in the community in which I live.

There are other efforts ongoing to improve community health in Jacksonville, including the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, which has focused on solving the hunger issues and a number of hospitals have launched their own efforts as part of the Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan. While these programs and others in the community may have made some progress, Jacksonville still faces major health issues and our quality measures are poor:

Some of the major barriers we face include:

  • we tend to say we need more data or another study,
  • we have not been very innovative, and
  • we have little accountability.

As far as data goes, there are plenty of studies available in addition to those cited above. Here are just a few more interesting ones: Continue reading

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The Florida Trail, 50 Years and Why these Trails are More Than Just a Walk in the Woods

Recently I took part in the Florida Trail Association (FTA) Annual Conference. The FTA develops, maintains, protects, and promotes a network of hiking trails throughout the state, including the unique Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST). This event celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the FTA’s founding.

A Brief History

The National Scenic Trails were authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968 that began with the naming of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as the first National Scenic Trails. The AT was originally founded by Benton MacKaye and completed in 1937. It’s over 2,000 miles long. Earl Shaffer was the first person to do a complete single thru-hike of the AT  in 1948. Earl was a soldier returning from World War II who said he was going to “walk off the war”.  More on this and its relevance to current day later.

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Jim and Fred at the unveiling of the sign.

The Florida National Scenic Trail another of the eleven National Scenic Trails is about 1,300 miles long and has its own originator, Jim Kern. The weekend was a well-earned celebration of Jim’s vision to establish the Florida Trail 50 years ago.  Jim is also a co-founder of the American Hiking Society, and founder of Big City Mountaineers which takes under-served urban youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions.

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