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Insight Paper

What Can Health Care Teach Us about Student Success?

Use this insight paper to learn about the population health student success model and how it can help us reframe how we think about student success.

Higher education leaders face unprecedented pressure to improve graduation rates. At the same time, student demographics are changing drastically, shifting towards groups that are more likely to be under-prepared. These students need more support, but institutions often cannot afford major new investments in student success. Academic leaders must use their existing resources more efficiently to help students.

We looked to the health care industry to learn how hospitals are incorporating risk analytics in order to reach patients before they become acutely ill.

Population health management: An instructive analogy

Population health management employs a combination of in-person interventions, remote monitoring, and preventative care in order to keep people healthy instead of treating them only when they’re ill. The model relies on analytics to identify different risk groups so that providers can better match interventions to patient needs. This allows providers to work more efficiently and expand their capacity to help patients.

Are we prepared to support tomorrow's students?

  • Advising staff

    Already at max capacity, will our advisors be able to take on additional burden?

  • Academic support

    How will we serve a large influx of underprepared and developmental students?

  • Student services

    What new financial, career, and mental health needs might we anticipate?

We see surprising parallels between how progressive health systems are adapting to population health management and how colleges and universities can rethink their overall approach to student success.

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Recommendations to leverage limited student success resources

Indeed, we’ve found that that institutions that have improved student persistence and graduation rates by and large follow this model. Taking a closer look at these progressive institutions, we identified a series of recommendations to help all institutions leverage their resources more efficiently in order to support students more effectively:

  • Adopt a system of risk stratification to understand which students need which kind of support.
  • Define differentiated care pathways for each risk segment to target the most effective care.
  • Install scalable support processes and technologies to expand capacity for care.
  • Create ownership and accountability at all levels to ensure that the overall strategy is executed.

We see remarkable parallels between how progressive health systems are adapting to population health management and how colleges and universities could rethink their overall approach to student success.

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