Getting real benefits from care coordination efforts depends on how well physician practices manage patients in between face-to-face care—over time and across all conditions. Having the technology to supplement patient relationships and navigation is important, but the clinician-patient relationship is key to lasting success.
Beyond that, capitalizing on value-based payment opportunities is becoming more and more critical to protecting your margins. Meeting the requirements to bill Medicare and other payers for providing care to patients in their homes can pay off significantly in better care and new revenues, but may require time that your staff doesn’t have. Hiring nurses, enrolling patients, and managing remote care is time consuming and hard to make work at an individual practice level.
That’s why scalable care management models are gaining traction. These allow nurse care managers to augment practice resources, helping ensure patients’ health and wellness is optimized between office visits, especially for those managing multiple chronic conditions. Through monthly telephone touch points, nurse managers can connect with patients about their health concerns, conduct health assessments, deliver education, and proactively intervene when needed. As an added benefit, nurses also build a strong, trusting relationship with patients. The right model can combine this personalized care management with strong technology that fully integrates with the practice’s EMR. And by providing services to multiple practices, they can deliver financial benefits to practices despite limited reimbursement.
Yet some physicians are understandably concerned about whether a third-party model can work for them. Here are the three concerns we hear most often:
1. Remote care is, by nature, too remote
Just because remote care happens over the phone doesn’t mean nurses or patients aren’t fully engaged. Human interactions with healthcare professionals on a regular basis—whether in person or over the phone—have been shown to improve health, medication adherence, and preventative care. The key is ongoing, personalized counseling, education, and better explanations of benefits and risks.
Patients have a direct clinical contact they can call or text at any time, knowing their physician will also be notified and their chart updated with each call. These connections can improve the person’s day-to-day mental well-being and physical health, contributing to a loyal relationship with the physician practice and fewer calls to physician staff.
2. Handing over check-ins between visits cedes too much provider control
This is perhaps the biggest mental hurdle for physicians to overcome, and it’s understandable that they don’t want to lose control over their patients’ wellbeing. But, as patient demands for access to healthcare increase, and chronic care becomes more complex, physician offices aren’t sufficiently equipped to connect with patients in the thousands of hours they aren’t getting care in a facility. Nearly 75 per cent of adults want continuous interaction with their healthcare provider between appointments and believe their provider should be doing more to support health and wellbeing, even when they aren't sick.
That’s one of the greatest benefits remote care management has to offer—meeting consumer demands without stretching physician practices too far. Research shows that there’s power in remote care nurses and the human connection: Patients are happy to hear from their physician through these nurses and know that they can count on them to guide them through their care process.
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