How Integrated Population Health Management Will Revolutionize Health Care

by Jeff Spahr

April 13, 2017

This is the first in a series of six blog posts about integrated health care. Keep an eye out for the next one.

Smartphones and integrated health care have a lot in common. Smartphones revolutionized our access to information. They’re not just for making phone calls. These devices can help us do everything from paying bills to booking a table for dinner to communicating using nothing more than emojis. Smartphones connect the dots between all aspects of our lives. And that’s just what integrated population health management does.

So what is integrated population health management (IPHM)?

It’s an employee benefits strategy and an approach to care that’s growing in popularity and demand in the United States. It connects pharmacy, dental, vision and disability data to an employer’s population health platform, which includes any clinical, disease management or care management programs.

IPHM uses analytics to transform health data into real insights that give a more complete picture of a member’s health and identify potential gaps in care. These insights allow for more informed care and earlier intervention for people who are at risk for health issues or who have chronic conditions.

How exactly does it work?

There are two basic models of integrated population health management. First, a one-way data feed from the ancillary benefits lines – pharmacy, dental, vision and disability – to the population health platform. This is a typical model for an employer that is using multiple-insurance carriers due to the challenges of standardizing data while keeping it secure and HIPAA compliant. Second, a multi-way data share between benefit lines, doctors, members and care managers. This is the typical model for an employer that’s using a single insurance carrier. This allows for true collaboration in patient treatment planning. It’s like having all your network doctors in the same room!

 How will it improve health care?

Ancillary care is ripe with member engagement opportunities. Here are some examples:

  • 10 percent of disability claims account for more than 50 percent of total medical and disability costs1
  • 75 percent of doctor visits involve drug therapy2
  • Members who have a chronic disease or are pregnant who treat periodontal disease have up to 40 percent fewer hospitalizations and up to 74 percent lower medical costs3
  • Members are three times more likely to get an annual eye exam than an annual physical4

What’s next?

Integrated population health management is all about providing a big-picture view of health. It reminds me of that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when they’re at a museum and his friend is staring at a painting. He stares so long that he doesn’t see the whole painting anymore; he just sees a bunch of random dots.

We need to see the big picture when it comes to health care. It’s the right approach to fundamentally changing the way health care works. It’ll lead to better health, more efficient care and stronger savings.

Integrating health care will revolutionize our lives. Learn more in the Integrated Health Care Report.

Jeff Spahr is VP Specialty Businesses at Anthem, Inc.


1 Council for Disability Awareness, Chances of a Disability, 2012: Impact of Integrating Health and Disability Data, IBI, 2006.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2010 Summary Tables (April 29, 2015): cdc.gov/nchs/data/ahcd/namcs_summary/2010_namcs_web_tables.pdf.
3 American Journal of Preventive Medicine’s Impact of Periodontal Therapy on General Health Study, June 2014: ajpmonline.org.
4 Human Capital Management Services (HCMS) study, 2010.