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Hearst Health Prize Attempts to Define Population Health Success

Analysis  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   June 26, 2018

Nine judges have been named to find the healthcare organization that best exemplifies actual improvements in health outcomes.

For all its popularity as an industry buzz phrase, population health is hard to achieve. Oh, there's a definition for it, but finding successful operational tactics to achieve better outcomes has been elusive.

The nine judges for the 2019 Hearst Health Prize for Excellence in Population Health know it when they see it though.

The 2019 winner of the prize will be judged on "actual improvements in health outcomes and/or health behaviors, not just financial measures, clinical process measures, or measures of participation."

That's a quote directly from the website that offers guidance for the prize offered by Philadelphia's Jefferson College of Population Health. It will be awarded for the fourth time in March 2019, but what hints can applicants take from previous winners? For one, you'd better be able to demonstrate improvement in the health circumstances of real people.

Previous winners have been Community Care of North Carolina, Intermountain Healthcare, and the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. Here's what they did:

  • Community Care of North Carolina: Won in part because of the organization's model for managing transitional care for the 2,600 North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries a month who are at risk for hospitalization or readmission. Hospitalization and readmission for the population declined by 10% and 16%, respectively, between 2008 and 2016, and total Medicaid costs for those involved were reduced by 9%.
  • Intermountain Healthcare: Won because of its Mental Health Integration program, which has tracked patients involved in a program designed to help them manage and treat mental health conditions, for 10 years. Among its most impressive results: Significant reductions in payments to the delivery system were associated with the Team-Based Care group vs. the Traditional Practice Medicine group ($3,400.62 vs. $3,515.71) and were lower than the investments in the Team-Based Care program itself.
  • Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance: Won in part because of its permanent supportive housing program to address chronic homelessness and the associated overutilization of acute and emergency care resources by this population. It achieved a 78% reduction in utilization of emergency services within the first six months of obtaining housing for homeless people.

The application deadline is August 9.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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