Survey findings from “Strengthening Chronic Care” report indicate patients need help managing chronic conditions to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and financial penalties.
- 91% of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease.
- Three-quarters (75%) of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base regularly and alert them if anything looks wrong.
- 39% of patients admit they’re only somewhat knowledgeable, at best, about how to effectively manage their chronic condition.
- 88% of patients who want assistance managing their condition believe help with their treatment would make a difference in their overall state of health.
- Only 5% of healthcare providers use automated survey check-ins to monitor patients between visits, despite strong patient demand for remote health monitoring.
- 62% of providers believe the emerging technology of two-way at-home devices that collect and report patient data, and communicate information back to patients, will be useful for chronic care.
MOBILE, Ala., Feb 20, 2017 – Survey findings show that 91 percent of patients with a chronic health condition need more help managing their disease, according to a report titled Strengthening Chronic Care: Patient Engagement Strategies for Better Management of Chronic Conditions that was released today by West at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference. Thirty-nine percent of patients with a chronic condition who were surveyed admit they are only somewhat knowledgeable about how to best manage their health. A majority of patients surveyed want additional support from their providers, and 88 percent of those who want help managing a chronic condition say assistance from their provider would make a difference in their overall state of health. These findings signal a need for more patient engagement in chronic care, and point to opportunities for healthcare organizations and providers to achieve better clinical and financial outcomes.
Patients Struggling to Manage Chronic Conditions
The emotional burden of chronic disease is challenging enough for patients. But in addition to the fear, anxiety and frustration chronic patients feel, many also say they lack the knowledge and confidence necessary to successfully manage their health. Forty-four percent of patients surveyed are only somewhat confident, at best, they are effectively managing their condition, and over half (59 percent) of patients with a chronic illness believe they are not doing everything they should be doing to manage their condition. As a result, one in five (20 percent) chronic patients rate their ability to manage their condition as fair or poor at best.
A lot of patients simply do not have a good grasp on health metrics – meaning they either don’t know what their current health metrics are, or they do not know what they should be. Forty-three percent of patients are only somewhat confident they know their current numbers for things like blood pressure and cholesterol. What’s more, even when patients do know their numbers, it is not guaranteed that they understand what those numbers mean. To make sense of health metrics and chronic disease management, patients need support from their healthcare providers.
Provider Support Essential for Improving Chronic Care
One in five patients feel they need 24-hour disease management assistance. Traditionally, chronic care has been delivered during face-to-face visits. However, this outdated approach to chronic care does not support patients when and where they need help. Providers can help patients do a better job of managing their health by supporting them not just during office visits, but also at home and in daily life – where patients desire more assistance.
According to Strengthening Chronic Care: Patient Engagement Strategies for Better Management of Chronic Conditions, at least 70 percent of patients with a chronic condition would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their disease. Close to a third of patients say a better understanding of how to change unhealthy behaviors (35 percent), a more individualized treatment plan (33 percent) or tips and tools for handling their condition (31 percent) would help them be more effective in their treatment.
Providers Must Seize Engagement Opportunities
There are many different ways providers can engage patients and support them between visits. As the West survey findings show, patients desire personalized and targeted communications and information, and they also want regular check-ins from providers. Three-quarters (75 percent) of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to contact them regularly and alert them if anything looks wrong. However, only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins to review their progress.
Automated surveys allow providers to routinely monitor chronic patients, escalate cases where patients are at risk, and intervene before patients reach the point of needing acute care. According to Strengthening Chronic Care: Patient Engagement Strategies for Better Management of Chronic Conditions, there is untapped potential for using patient surveys. Just five percent of providers say they use survey check-ins that ask patients questions about treatment plans.
Biometric monitoring devices like heart rate monitors and blood pressure cuffs offer similar benefits as patient surveys. These tools provide additional opportunities to engage and monitor patients at home, and could be leveraged more by providers.
Chronic Disease is Costly for Providers
Potentially avoidable readmissions are costing hospitals $528 million in Medicare penalties for the 2017 fiscal year. Healthcare organizations know that reducing preventable readmissions is in their best interest financially, but many do not realize that they are missing opportunities to prevent readmissions by proactively engaging chronic patients.
Chuck Hayes, Vice President of Product Management for TeleVox Solutions at West, said of the survey findings, “There is a great deal of financial pressure on hospitals to keep readmissions to a minimum. The financial motivation to reduce readmissions should be prompting providers to work proactively to keep patients out of the hospital. What the survey findings revealed by Strengthening Chronic Care: Patient Engagement Strategies for Better Management of Chronic Conditions show is that much more needs to be done to help patients manage chronic conditions so that unnecessary hospitalizations can be prevented. In fact, there are opportunities for providers to do more to engage patients in their daily lives and at home, and there is evidence to show that those efforts would lead to better patient health outcomes.”
In summary, the West report shows that providers can more successfully manage chronic diseases and produce the clinical outcomes patients expect, leading to financial benefits for healthcare providers, by more effectively engaging and supporting chronic patients.
West’s Engagement Center Solutions help healthcare organizations effectively activate and engage patients and members, beyond the clinical setting, as they traverse the healthcare system. By providing innovative technology and creating strategic communications at key points across the care continuum, West’s Engagement Center enables healthcare providers to reduce costs, maximize revenue, improve quality and optimize the patient experience.
West Corporation is a global provider of communication and network infrastructure services. West helps its clients more effectively communicate, collaborate and connect with their audiences through a diverse portfolio of solutions that include unified communications services, safety services, interactive services such as automated notifications, telecom services and specialized agent services. For 30 years, West has provided reliable, high-quality voice and data services. West has sales and operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America.