Dr. Arshad Rahim, an Assistant Professor and practicing physician with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, discusses current healthcare challenges and shares how population health, precision medicine, and value-based care can work together to address these challenges.
American healthcare continues to face challenges, including inequitable access to care and coverage, unstable publicly funded programs, a dated infrastructure, and lagging use of technology. What are some ways we can address these challenges?
Elise Wilfinger sits down with Dr. Arshad Rahim, an Assistant Professor and practicing physician with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, to share how population health, precision medicine, and value-based care can work together to address these challenges.
He begins by defining population health, which is about “taking finite resources and applying them in the most innovative and efficient way (and at scale) to best meet the healthcare needs of a defined population,” and explains that strong population health is made up of two components: a define population, and the need to further build relationships with those that are paying the bill.
But according to Dr. Rahim, the biggest thing needed to improve American healthcare: The cost-effective delivery of high-quality healthcare. And while population health and precision medicine may seem at odds with each other, these two concepts complement each other and may even be able to co-exist.
But population health is still a relatively aspirational idea, and while there’s been a substantial change in the past eight years to implement it in the United States, there remains a need for payer incentives and provider investment, know-how, and philosophical belief in the population health model to change a long-standing, entrenched, though inefficient, fee-for-service delivery infrastructure. In fact, countries outside of the U.S. are implementing population health strategies much more effectively for two reasons:
The primary care base is stronger in other countries
The incentives are much better aligned to keeping citizens healthy through population health and public health focus
A value-based care model may help the United States better implement population health, and it may even be the most effective way to implement these strategies in poor and underserved communities. This is because this style of healthcare accounts for both medical and non-medical factors—including food insecurity, housing insecurity, and even educational insecurity.
On top of benefitting underserved communities, implementing population health strategies could improve the care of chronic diseases, such as kidney disease. According to Dr. Arshad, population health could help patients with chronic conditions identify these conditions earlier on and help them get cost-effective treatment. Especially for something like chronic kidney disease, which is often the leading contributor to other disease states.
Dr. Arshad concludes by saying that many of these complications come from a lack of bipartisan support for value-based care and population health. While President Biden has hired people who are both proponents of value-based care and have had experience within these delivery models, the Biden Administration may have its hands full with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s unclear whether those measures will be implemented in the immediate future.