TeleVox technology helps aging adults stay connected with their doctors and on top of disease education and prevention awareness.
MOBILE, Ala., March 12, 2013 — As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, older adults gained new benefits, such as free, annual preventive care visits and early-detection services, including mammograms. Unfortunately, these services are being underused. According to a Healthy World Report released by Televox Software, a leading provider of patient engagement communications (EC), only 32 percent of the aging population are receiving the preventive care measures that are recommended for them. The report, Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention, found that as patients age, some assume that managing their health will become a higher priority but aren’t sure exactly what tests or lifestyle adjustments should occur. Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention offers an overview of certain health precautions aging adults should take, when to take them, and what the current statistics are for those who may not be receiving the preventive care they need. In addition to the information regarding seniors, Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention provides a basic guide for patients as they begin or continue to practice a healthy lifestyle that will help to prevent illness and disease. The report also addresses how high-tech communications, when employed by physicians to personalize preventive care and treatment plans, can provide a more beneficial and thorough experience to patients.
Prevention Awareness for Aging Adults
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 37 million people in the Baby Boomer population will be managing one or more chronic conditions by the year 2030. The most common chronic conditions include diabetes, arthritis, congestive heart failure and dementia. Many patients with these conditions lose the ability to live independently and must move to nursing homes where, many times, the quality of care suffers. Baby Boomers, in particular, must realize that prioritizing their preventive healthcare will help preserve their independence as well as their physical and emotional well-being.
Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention found that although 95 percent of the Baby Boomer generation said they feel preventive care is important, 26 percent reported not feeling as knowledgeable as they could be about their health insurance policy’s coverage of such care. These Boomers lack knowledge and understanding of how to receive their benefits. Consequently, doctors, policy providers and the media must continue the effort to educate aging adults on their preventive care rights and the steps they can take to live a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis.
Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention provides a descriptive “to-do” list based on a compilation of research from the Center for Disease Control, the American Association of Retired Persons and the American Medical Association. The following are three examples from the list:
Get a Colorectal Screening at 50 — By screening for colorectal cancer, precancerous polyps can be detected and removed in patients before they develop into cancer. If all adults age 50 and older were screened routinely, as many as 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.
Check Cholesterol — Heart disease and stroke are major causes of premature death and serious disability in persons younger than 65. Periodic cholesterol checks can decrease hospital and ambulatory services and prevent premature death from coronary heart disease.
Maintain Good Oral Health — Almost all adults ages 50-64 have missing or filled permanent teeth, and most show signs of gum disease which is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Prevention and Preparedness
No patient can remain completely risk-free, regardless of gender or age, but they can choose to make certain healthy habits a part of their lives. Proactive choices to eat better, quit smoking, and floss daily can add up, increasing overall wellness and easing the aging process — all while lowering healthcare spending. Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention provides a brief guide for patients on how to make daily, healthy life choices. This guide, based on research from the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health, includes lifestyle suggestions such as avoiding secondhand smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, dental care and skin examinations.
Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention points out that though an unwelcome diagnosis may occur, we are fortunate to live in a time where preventive care can avert numerous health issues. Both patients and physicians benefit from focusing on preventive care and taking advantage of education and screening opportunities before symptoms begin. Though some U.S. healthcare consumers say that a doctor’s recommendation is one of the top reasons to seek preventive care, patients also must accept full responsibility for their own health and engage in a collaborative relationship with their physician(s). And despite the fact that healthy people typically don’t want to invest time and money in seeing a doctor for a check-up, studies show that a patient may recall symptoms or questions in the exam room they may otherwise have ignored. Maintaining regular wellness visits provides an opportunity for the doctor to ask pertinent questions and perform relevant tests to assess whether a patient needs treatment. The study also highlights how important it is for patients to slow down while with their doctors and to document any feedback. It’s also beneficial for patients to know what their insurance policy offers in terms of preventive coverage before meeting with a physician.
Maximizing Doctor-Patient Communication
With each passing decade, doctors become increasingly successful at providing patients with education and guidance during each appointment. Recent studies have shown, however, that both doctor and patient must boost their level of communication with one another to eliminate unnecessary clinic visits and hospital readmissions, making the most out of everyone’s time.
Healthcare providers need to be aware of the “one size fits all” approach: All persons of X gender, over or under the age of X, receive X. Some doctors may have the intention to tailor annual checkups to the needs of each individual patient but may lose sight of this individuality because of workload or other daily time constraints. Know Your Health: A Necessary Focus on Prevention revealed that doctors who prioritize personalization provide a more thorough experience for their patients. Healthcare providers that currently embrace this type of treatment are leveraging the data in electronic health records to engage patients with supportive communications via email, text, voicemail and mobile applications. Through the convergence of mobile devices, online access and electronic patient data records, physicians can now communicate more efficiently and effectively between visits, allowing time spent during annual exams to be more productive.
Creating a Healthy World
No matter your age or gender, preventive action will not only improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, but it will also improve quality of life and save lives. Patients want to be involved in their care but need the tools to stay educated, encouraged and motivated to follow through for their own health. Text messages, phone calls and emails from physician get patients’ attention while providing this desired support and involvement.
Increasing patient communication efforts will require forward-thinking healthcare practitioners who understand that their continued involvement is critical to ensuring a healthy future for our patients. Many physicians understand that engaging patients between office visits can inspire them to embrace and build the habits to follow through with treatment plans. They know personalized, ongoing engagement can activate positive lifestyle changes that will help people lead healthy lives.
- Download the full report for a deeper look at the findings: www.televox.com/resources/healthy-world
- To arrange an interview with Scott Zimmerman, President of TeleVox, to discuss these study findings in more detail, please contact Robby Trail from Jones PR at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 402-507-5094.