What is Panel Management?

As an independent physician focused on providing quality care for your patients, you know that being proactive is much more effective in preventive healthcare than simply reacting to illnesses. Panel management is a technique that can help ensure you and your staff are being proactive with your patient population.

Panel management, often referred to as population health management, involves all clinical staff in your independent practice, including medical assistants, health workers, and nurses. As a proactive measure, panel management ensures that all of your patients are current on their basic preventive care such as screenings and immunizations.

Your clinical staff can identify and reach out to patients who may not have an upcoming appointment to ensure they are receiving the care they need. In addition, your practice can communicate care gaps with your patients when they do come in for their office visit, perhaps for another reason. The goal is to connect with patients to close any potential gaps and provide quality healthcare across your patient panel.

The independent practice’s population of patients is quite simply the panel of patients associated with you and your care team. As the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) emphasizes, “Population-based care means that the care team is concerned with the health of the entire population of its patients, not just those who come in for visits.”

Learn more about how to improve your population health management with Elation’s Clinical First EHR

AHRQ also emphasizes the need for a different approach, with an emphasis on continuity of care in panel management:

Instead of thinking about patients episodically (a string of loosely connected appointments), practices must find ways to proactively reach out and develop continued relationships with their patients to provide continuity of care. Continuity of care is designed to provide higher quality of care to patients by providing consistent care over time through a primary care provider.

In your independent practice, you might assign patients to one of your clinical staff to help you shift your approach. You can designate individuals or teams that are responsible for specific patients. This approach to panel management also supports continuous relationships between your patients and your care team. As a practice, you can proactively manage care for all of your patients when they are assigned to a panel, rather than simply providing care for each patient as they come in for their appointment.

The University of Washington Department of Medicine (UW Medicine) outlines the key benefits of proactive panel management, or population health management:

  • Better health outcomes: The ultimate goal of PHM is simple – improving the quality of care while reducing costs.
  • Disease management: PHM improves the care of those with chronic and costly disease by using IT solutions that track and manage their care.
  • Closing care gaps: A fully integrated HBI tool helps close gaps in care by allowing organizations and physicians to have real-time access to track and address patient needs. Laboratory, billing, electronic health record and prescription data can easily pinpoint unmet needs and gaps in data or service delivery.
  • Cost savings for providers: As with all advances in healthcare management, PHM is a win-win. By leveraging data analytics, PHM improves clinical outcomes while reducing costs.