In a value-based care environment, the responsibility to control costs and improve the outcomes for high-risk patients falls on physician practices. These population health management (PHM) duties can be major burdens on practices with limited resources and support staff, as they often require more than routine office visits to manage successfully.
Likewise, consumer expectations are changing. Patients want greater care accessibility and communication from their physicians. They are demanding information and answers when and where they want them. The key challenge for most practices is to continue innovating and working to further enhance the quality of care while keeping patients engaged and costs in check.
Maintaining engagement before, during, and after office visits requires organizations to monitor patient’s activities outside of the practice, in real-time. Activities include nonclinical events and factors that may influence outcomes. Fortunately for time-strapped practices, data-driven workflows and tools can help care managers and other clinicians more efficiently intervene with high-risk patients while increasing engagement and satisfaction for all.
Changing consumer expectations
The growth of high-deductible health plans and mobile internet-connected technology has changed patients’ expectations about healthcare. Patients experienced an 11 percent increase in out-of-pocket costs from 2016 to 2017, up to $1,813, according to findings from TransUnion Healthcare. Greater direct financial responsibility has caused many patients to consider new ways of reducing their costs and avoiding office visits—even if appointments are preventive or needed for chronic condition management. In fact, 40 percent of Americans reported skipping a recommended medical test or treatment and 44 percent said they did not seek care when they were sick or injured in the last year because of cost, according to a recent survey from NORC at the University of Chicago and West Health Institute.
Simultaneously, smartphone adoption rate has grown to 77 percent for all Americans and nearly half (46 percent) for Americans age 65 and older, according to the Pew Research Center. Smartphone adoption growth also means patients can access their devices to cost-effectively learn about and manage their chronic conditions, which can be helpful—or dangerous—considering the abundance of inaccurate and deceptive health information available on the internet.
While smartphones present a challenge for increasing engagement, they also offer an ideal opportunity for practices to activate patients in their care, through a device they’re already using. American consumers check their phone on average 47 times a day, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Mobile Consumer Survey. This means before a visit, automated health status surveys and reminders can be sent to patients’ via their phones. If a patient has not visited the practice within a predetermined amount of time, a text message urging the patient to schedule an appointment, complete a survey, or read education materials can be effective at sustaining or reigniting engagement.