Do healthcare needs-based population segments predict outcomes among the elderly? Findings from a prospective cohort study in an urbanized low-income community.
BACKGROUND: A rapidly ageing population with increasing prevalence of chronic disease presents policymakers the urgent task of tailoring healthcare services to optimally meet changing needs. While healthcare needs-based segmentation is a promising approach to efficiently assessing and responding to healthcare needs at the population level, it is not clear how available schemes perform in the context of community-based surveys administered by non-medically trained personnel. The aim of this prospective cohort, community setting study is to evaluate 4 segmentation schemes in terms of practicality and predictive validity for future health outcomes and service utilization. METHODS: A cohort was identified from a cross-sectional health and social characteristics survey of Singapore public rental housing residents aged 60 years and above. Baseline survey data was used to assign individuals into segments as defined by 4 predefined population segmentation schemes developed in Singapore, Delaware, Lombardy and North-West London. From electronic data records, mortality, hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and specialist outpatient clinic visits were assessed for 180 days after baseline segment assignment and compared to segment membership for each segmentation scheme. RESULTS: Of 1324 residents contacted, 928 agreed to participate in the survey (70% response). All subjects could be assigned an exclusive segment for each segmentation scheme. Individuals in more severe segments tended to have lower quality of life as assessed by the EQ-5D Index for health utility. All population segmentation schemes were observed to exhibit an ability to differentiate different levels of mortality and healthcare utilization. CONCLUSIONS: It is practical to assign individuals to healthcare needs-based population segments through community surveys by non-medically trained personnel. The resulting segments for all 4 schemes evaluated in this way have an ability to predict health outcomes and utilization over the medium term (180 days), with significant overlap for some segments. Healthcare needs-based segmentation schemes which are designed to guide action hold particular promise for promoting efficient allocation of services to meet the needs of salient population groups. Further evaluation is needed to determine if these schemes also predict responsiveness to interventions to meet needs implied by segment membership.
Chong, JL; Low, LL; Matchar, DB; Malhotra, R; Lee, KH; Thumboo, J; Chan, AW-M
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