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Do you know what your patients are doing in between appointments to manage their health and wellness? Chances are you can easily tell if patients are adhering to their care plans when they’re in your doctor’s office, but it’s not always easy to know if they’re following nutritional instructions or taking prescribed medications when they’re in the comfort of their own home.

The truth is, when patients don’t adhere to care, the result is negative health outcomes and increased costs. In contrast, when patients do adhere to medical care, it can help you:

  • Keep more members and patients healthy
  • Achieve value-based targets
  • Decrease time spent on manual communication
  • Minimize costly ER and Urgent Care visits
  • Increase revenue

From getting patients into the office for preventative care to providing educational resources that help them make healthier choices at home, communication is a critical component of improving care adherence.

Traditionally, payers and providers tried to improve patient adherence through manual communication efforts like phone calls and generalized mailers. The problem with this is that it’s not scalable or sustainable–nor is it effective. Rather, practices experience frustration after frustration playing phone tag with patients or seeing minimal change in care plan adherence because the communication fails to engage the patient.

In today’s digital world, technology is enabling increased communication and engagement at scale. With the ability to customize and automate messages based on patient information and preferences, payers and providers are leveraging technology to improve adherence to care.

Here are four ways to use technology to improve patient adherence to medical care, regardless of where they’re at in the care continuum.

1. Preventative Care

One-fifth of primary care visits involve preventative care such as cancer screenings and immunizations. Automated technology can help improve patient adherence related to preventative care, as payers and providers can send timely messages such as recall reminders or educational information related to the importance of relevant screenings or visits, including:

  • Annual visits
  • Cancer screenings (e.g. breast cancer or colorectal cancer)
  • Immunizations and vaccinations (e.g. flu shots)
  • Prenatal and postnatal care
  • Sports physicals

Instead of the manual labor of calling patients as they’re due for the above visits, payers and providers can automatically send messages based on EHR data and specified-criteria for each patient to improve care adherence. By proactively connecting parents and patients to the right care at the right time, you can minimize unnecessary visits that result from preventable diseases. This improvement in adherence keeps your patients healthier while allowing your providers and staff to focus on caring for patients in the office that day.

2. Chronic Disease Care

Chronic disease is one of the top causes of death, disability, and inflating healthcare costs in the United States. That’s why it’s critical for payers and providers to help chronic patients improve adherence to care and management of their disease. This requires engagement with patients, before, during, and after medical appointments through the use of individualized treatment and tools for managing their condition.

Whether it’s a result of forgetfulness or complicated regimens, patients may neglect to adhere to care plans without regular communication between visits. Technology fills in this gap by allowing payers and providers to communicate via automated text messages that are tailored specifically to the needs of their patient populations.

Communication can be tailored for a variety of common chronic conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
  • High-Risk Obstetrics
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity
  • And more…

Messages could include anything from appointment reminders and medication prompts to educational tips and resources for making healthy choices.

The right technology can help you identify patients in each of these categories through seamless integration with your EHR. With capabilities for advanced reporting and analytics, leveraging technology to target populations with chronic diseases can make population health outreach can be even more targeted. For example, in a population health outreach campaign for patients with diabetes, healthcare providers and payers could target patients with HBA1C levels above 8 who have also not been to the doctor in the past 90 days. This can result in improved patient adherence to regular visits as a result of engaging with patients in a new but focused approach.

This personalized population health outreach delivers resources at scale to help patients demonstrate self-care and receive continuous support beyond the clinical setting. Clinical messaging can increase patient adherence, and when a patient deviates from their care plan, automation can inform the care team, allowing them to intervene in a timely manner.

3. Diagnostic Orders

In addition to proactive messaging, technology allows payers and providers to follow-up with patients who have outstanding orders to lab work, imaging, or other kinds of tests, such as:

  • Allergy screenings
  • Bloodwork
  • Diabetes screenings
  • Infectious disease screenings
  • Thyroid screenings
  • Urinalysis
  • And more …

When patients leave an appointment with the directions to visit another facility at another time for diagnostic tests, they may not always follow through—despite having the best of intentions.

Using technology to send reminders or educational resources on why diagnostic tests are important can help improve the process of closing the loop on these important orders. Messages can be tailored to the unique care plans of each patient through seamless EHR integration that targets patients based on their health records.

4. Other

Finally, payers and providers can leverage technology to engage their patients and improve adherence to care for anything else that might be relevant to their specific patient population. From inclement weather notifications that impact their appointment day and time to broad educational resources related to a particular disease or injury, messages can be tailored to meet a variety of business needs.

Automated technology allows healthcare organizations to send hundreds or thousands of messages within minutes, encouraging improved care adherence at scale. This is convenient for patients, too, as they’re instantly reached on their smartphone so care plan adherence stays top of mind.

Being able to communicate and engage with patients at every step of their journey through the care continuum increases the likelihood that they will improve adherence to care, thereby elevating outcomes and driving value-based care at your practice. Ultimately, the result is healthier and happier patient populations—and providers.

To learn more about how technology can help you improve patient adherence to care at your practice, contact us today.