It’s hard for a hospital to take on a completely new business model without shaking things up in the organization, at least a little bit.

As we reported in our October cover story, health systems across the country are working fervently to adopt population health management techniques and tools, from computers that crunch numbers to people who listen. It’s the smart ones that are doing so already in 2015, rather than waiting for some proverbial switch to flip within the industry. “The hospital systems that are going to be successful are making the investments today,” David Nash, M.D., dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, told my colleague Paul Barr. “They’re doing the blocking and tackling to be prepared for the game.”

That’s the case for New York-Presbyterian over in the Big Apple, which recently announced a series of maneuvers to help prepare itself for the future of health care. They include forming a new population health division within the delivery network, and appointing a leadership team with two physicians at the top to “enable its continued success under its new model of integrated care,” according to the release.

David Alge, vice president of strategy and financial planning, says we’re all familiar with the “why” reasons for making such organizational maneuvers — shrinking reimbursement, calls in the Affordable Care Act to keep people healthy and out of the hospital, the consumer-minded patient, etc. For him, the uncertainty is around where NYP wants to focus its attention, and what resources it needs to accomplish its population health goals.

Over the years, New York-Presbyterian — which comprises an academic medical center with six campuses, a regional network of hospitals and two notable academic partners, including Columbia University — has already been undertaking a number of initiatives. These range from 13 patient-centered medical homes within its ambulatory care network to a joint venture with the two medical schools to launch a Medicare Shared Savings Program accountable care organization earlier this year.

Alge says it just made sense to wrap all the disparate efforts together and launch its own population health division. “We really reached that point of critical mass," he said. 

NYP now is looking to determine what it needs to pursue this new mission — an ability to analyze claims data, care management skills, etc. — and how to fill any gaps. Access points are also critical to the health network’s strategy, and they’re exploring outside-the-box ways to fill them, including partnerships with retail health clinics and the use of telehealth, Alge says.

He expects they’ll need a year or so to establish a base and figure out their direction, but operationalizing population health management could take three to five years. However, they’ve already been doing this work for a while, so “it’s not as if we’re starting from zero.”

What’s your health system doing to prepare for the future model of health care? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and be sure to give Paul Barr’s pop health story a read.