There is no question that chronic conditions are a major burden on the U.S. healthcare system, accounting, along with mental health conditions, for 90% of the country’s $3.5 trillion annual healthcare spend. Among the reasons is the fact that many chronic conditions can affect patients for extended periods – years, decades, even lifetimes – leading to ongoing treatment and disease management.
Without the help of technology to drive operational efficiency, providers will continue to face challenges in delivering the level of service and quality of care patients expect – and which is needed to support value-based healthcare models that are set to become the standard.
With the entrance of new connected health solutions, providers can increase communication and collaboration opportunities between their staff and patients or other physicians. As a result, telehealth, RPM, and other connected health services can deepen doctor-patient relationships and drive patient engagement in their own healthcare, helping increase the quality of outcomes and even helping move the systems toward preventative care from traditional reactionary services.
While in-person visits are necessary under certain circumstances, chronic conditions are part of patients’ lives constantly. To effectively manage many chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart conditions, arthritis, and others, it’s important to ensure continual communication between patients and providers. Because these conditions are ongoing, short office visits may not be adequate for effective treatment, whereas remote patient monitoring, combined with virtual visits, may be able to provide a more consistent stream of data to allow physicians to more effectively understand treatment effectiveness and condition status. Furthermore, for many questions and regular updates, office visits may not be time- or cost-effective for patients or providers. Telehealth access – through video, voice, email, chat, or even text – may be an effective alternative and reduce the demand on in-office personnel, as well as scheduling and travel for patients.
Depending on specific conditions and the nature of patient-doctor engagements – in other words, what each engagement is needed for – different provider staff may become involved. In some cases, weekly calls may take place with nurses, or emails or text messages may be exchanged with other digital care coordinators, and in some cases, physicians themselves may be needed on the phone or video call. The ability for all staff to have access to complete patient records, including automated updates from connected devices, apps or patient portals, is important for each to be able to deliver the appropriate levels of care based on each patient’s conditions and progress. Connected health is also a key to treating patients with multiple chronic conditions, where different physicians or specialists may be required to consult on different conditions.
Whether additional specialists or family members who are involved in the care process, connected health can allow physicians to appropriately and securely share patient records and information. By consulting colleagues and specialists, physicians may be able to offer better treatment programs to patients. With increased collaboration with other caregivers, doctors are able to engage as needed to help those family members or others understand patient conditions and how to effectively manage them – and how and when to communicate changes in conditions.
Connected health solutions can provide much needed engagement tools between patients and their healthcare providers. The result could be not only improved results for patients – including the ability to be treated in more comfortable environments – but also a reduced burden on providers, who may be able to treat more patients in the same time frames, with improved results.
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