Posts Tagged ‘preventive screening’

Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

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