Getting sick is no fun. In addition to dealing with the symptoms of whatever virus or infection with which you’re dealing, you miss out on social activities and obligations and work.
Imagine, though, living with those annoying symptoms every day. That’s what it feels like to live with a chronic disease.
It can take a toll on your mental health, too. Some chronic illnesses may make you more likely to have or develop a mental health condition.
A disease is considered chronic when it persists for at least a year and requires ongoing medical attention or limits daily activities. Approximately 60 percent of adults in the United States have a chronic disease, and six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease, such as heart disease and stroke, cancer or diabetes. These and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in America.
Roughly 40 million people in the U.S. are restricted in their day-to-day activities — also referred to as activities of daily living (ADL) — due to one or more common chronic health conditions. Other challenges of living with a chronic disease include:
- Physical symptoms, such as discomfort or pain
- Treatments that can be unpleasant or difficult to follow consistently
- Lifestyle changes, such as having to follow dietary restrictions
- The need for more frequent medical attention, possibly including repeated hospitalizations
- Uncertainty regarding complications, long-term outcomes or (in the case of an illness like cancer) possible recurrence
Then there are the financial costs of chronic disease. Chronic disease is a leading driver of healthcare costs — more than 75 percent of all healthcare costs are due to treating them.
Why Patient Engagement is Essential
Many healthcare providers conduct chronic disease management to help patients navigate their conditions. Why is this such an important focus for clinicians? Because it is crucial to improving outcomes and lowering costs.
Not all patients follow treatment guidelines, though. Even though adherence is essential for positive health outcomes and treatment efficacy — it’s associated with improved clinical outcomes for chronic disease management and reduced mortality from chronic conditions — about half of patients with chronic diseases don’t take their medication as prescribed.
That’s why patient engagement is a necessary component of chronic disease management. It is one of the best tools in a provider’s toolbox when it comes to managing chronic diseases alongside their patients.
Also, because chronic disease management and patient engagement are both inherently patient-focused, it is important for healthcare providers to employ both strategies simultaneously. Using patient engagement for chronic disease management can be broken down into three general categories:
- Preventing and detecting the condition
- Managing the condition with the provider
- Managing the condition through self-management
Only when patients are fully engaged in their own health will they be more likely to track their progress, adhere to treatment plans and ask their providers what they can do to manage their condition. These behaviors can be highly instrumental in preventing their condition from deteriorating further and helping them avoid more invasive or costly interventions.
The Merits of Technology for Patient Communication
Empowered chronic disease patients have the potential to generate significantly better outcomes than those who rely on their regular doctor visits to manage their conditions. When performed effectively, patient engagement can even keep them from unnecessarily seeking care from the emergency department.
That medication adherence problem we mentioned earlier in this blog? Patients who interact more with their doctors are 2.57 times more likely to adhere to medication. For some patients with chronic conditions, those who took their medications as prescribed saved an average of between $4,000 and $8,000 per year on healthcare costs.
One of the keys to engaging patients for chronic disease management is consistent and effective communication — not only in the office. To effectively communicate with a patient population, automated technology solutions can help identify patients who are due for annual, preventative care, including critical screenings, vaccinations and other regular visits. These solutions also offer effective tools for helping healthcare providers empower their patients, giving them the resources and support to make decisions in their care.
The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends the use of text messaging interventions to increase medication adherence among patients with chronic medical conditions. Even patient populations whose health is strained by social determinants of health often have a cell phone to increase their access to technology-based health interactions.
By utilizing HIPAA-compliant two-way texting to send personalized messages to chronic disease populations, providers can better identify and manage those high-risk patients. At Providertech, we can assist you in engaging your patients in chronic disease care, resulting in benefits like keeping more patients healthy, minimizing emergency department visits, achieving value-based care targets and increasing revenue. Schedule a demo with us to learn more!