by Chloe Bowen
Patient population refers to the demographics and other particulars of a population being serviced – for example, a population’s ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or population density.
Individuals can also be grouped into a patient population based on their health characteristics, such as people with asthma or women who are pregnant.
Healthcare professionals demarcate patient populations in a variety of ways depending on what they are trying to evaluate or accomplish. Therefore people can be part of multiple patient population cohorts at the same time.
Individuals move in and out of patient populations as their circumstances change, such as when they move or when they no longer have a disease.
Analyzing a patient population
Over the past few decades, healthcare in the US has been changing its focus from inpatient to outpatient services. Healthcare providers are more concerned than ever with keeping their patients healthy and at home as much as possible, while still offering the appropriate inpatient care when needed.
In order to better serve their patients, hospitals and health systems need to understand whom they are treating – and that means analyzing their patient population.
Healthcare systems can slice and dice their patient populations in a multitude of ways in order to analyze their performance. For example, a national hospital might compare various patient health attributes based on location, age, gender, or what medications patients are taking.
In order to offer the right care at the right time (and for the right price) healthcare providers must analyze patient outcomes based on patient population, however they define it.
Gathering information about a patient population
The best way to get information about a patient’s outcome is to ask him or her directly. However, until recently it has been very difficult for healthcare providers to communicate on a large scale with their clients. Many of the assessment tools available to other industries have been unavailable to doctors and hospitals due to HIPAA compliant email requirements.
However, with Project Orca, healthcare professionals can build, launch, and manage multi-channel campaigns to gather information about people in their care based on demographics, specific conditions, etc.
Understanding patient population requires data, and collecting data requires communicating with patients.