How Data-Driven Practices Improve Population HealthMay 25, 2016
When someone has a chronic disease, such as diabetes or heart disease, there are set processes for managing those illnesses. These processes work best when the patient has regular, consistent access to healthcare and the healthcare system is well-managed and responsive to population needs. This is achieved by using data to identify weaknesses in the healthcare system.
At LMI, we have the expertise to analyze large volumes of data and turn it into meaningful information that helps improve health outcomes in the United States and around the world. Each region—in fact, each country, province, or state—has its own challenges, often related to patient compliance. Prescriptions and other medical supplies come in packaging that can be hard to understand if a patient has low health literacy. There are ways to design the prescription packages so patients know what to do without being able to understand medical lingo. For example, color-coded prescription labels can remind someone of how frequently they should take their medications, and medication bottles and containers can communicate when medications are running low or are about to expire. Other helpful systems send medication reminders via a digital device or phone. The reminders give details about dosage and timing, or when to refill the prescription.
When patients don’t follow their treatment plans, they are more likely to experience adverse health complications. This presents a burden to our healthcare system through the high costs associated with increased emergency room visits. LMI’s Health Management division, in collaboration with our partners, has the ability to evaluate data points to identify which patients have difficulties following their treatment plans and make system-wide recommendations. For example, a recommendation might be to increase the number of community health workers assigned to a particular community or to increase the frequency of visits of health workers from monthly to weekly. The community health workers can evaluate whether people skip dosages because medications are too expensive for their budgets, because they are feeling better and do not think they need the medication anymore, or because the medication is causing uncomfortable side effects. Health workers who understand simple supply management practices also ensure medications are being stored or transported properly.
The data may indicate that a medication is not consistently available in a certain region. Our analyses help pharmacies and other stakeholders in the healthcare supply chain ensure that supply and demand is in sync. Globally, LMI has the expertise to identify weaknesses in the supply chain and ultimately improve population health. For example, our work in Uganda strengthened the supply chain to deliver high-quality, low-cost health supplies necessary for AIDS treatment. Although global in scope, our work has an impact all the way down to the last mile by helping doctors understand if certain medications are too difficult to get to a patient.
The U.S. federal government and others are now taking steps to incentivize health organizations to research why people don’t comply with treatment plans and develop ways to address this. Fixing these issues can result in cost savings and better patient outcomes.