Patients with chronic conditions eager for more care at home, new research shows

Report offers advice on how to do it right – the way patients want.
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Ninety-one  percent of people with chronic disease say they need help in managing their disease – not in the doctor’s office, but at home, between appointments.

Six in 10 people diagnosed with a chronic condition do not feel they’re doing everything they can to manage their condition. At the same time, 67 percent of healthcare providers believe patients aren’t certain about their target health metrics. Three-quarters of physicians are only somewhat confident their patients are truly informed about their present state of health.

Most people and their doctors are on the same page recognizing that patients lack confidence in managing their condition, but how to remedy this recognized challenge? The survey and report, Strengthening Chronic Care, offers some practical advice.

This research was conducted by West Corporation, which Health Populi readers might know by their previous corporate name, Televox.

As Peter Drucker is reputed to have coined, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Not knowing one’s quantified target health goals compromises health literacy and effective patient engagement, leading to sub-optimal health outcomes. In a value-based and population health management world, that’s a lose-lose-lose for payers, providers, and patients. As patients face more direct out-of-pocket costs via high-deductibles and HSAs, this is personal x 2 – both clinically and financially.

Being diagnosed with a chronic condition weighs heavily on patients, West found. Anxiety, frustration, stress and depression are common co-morbidities and responses among people who get news about a chronic condition such as diabetes, obesity, congestive heart failure or COPD. Over one in five of these patients has difficulty sleeping, and one-fourth feel exhausted.

An obesity diagnosis is particularly hard-hitting: 52 percent of patients feel depressed after receiving this diagnosis, 48 percent feel anxious and stressed, and 24 percent of these folks feel isolated and on their own, West learned.

For providers who are keen to improve HCAHPS and other patient-generated “grades,” note that patients who feel less knowledgeable about their condition are three times more likely to report their condition as “poor.”

So, what do patients want? Seventy percent of people with a chronic condition would like more resources on how to manage their disease, and 91 percent say they need help in managing their disease – not in the doctor’s office, but at home, between appointments.

Patients would like a range of support for self-care: 88 percent of people with a chronic condition who want assistance managing their disease believe help with treatment would make a difference in their overall health:

  • 35 percent want to better understand how to change unhealthy behaviors
  • 33 percent of people want more individualized treatment plans, and
  • 31 percent want tips and tools to better manage their condition
  • Intermittent provider check-ins are important: 54 percent of patients view a weekly or twice-weekly check-in as valuable.

Most patients with a chronic condition would welcome a remote health monitoring technology to collect, report, and communicate data between themselves from home and their providers. Only 6 percent of patients did not think this would be useful.

West Corporation surveyed, via Kelton Research, 502 patients with at least one chronic condition and a hospital admission related to that condition. It also surveyed 417 healthcare providers to gauge the physician side of the chronic care equation. Interviews were conducted between December 2016 and January 2017.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  These findings complement those I discussed earlier this week in Health Populi on patients’ lack of engagement with their EHRs and personal health information.

This research into patients with chronic conditions reveals a ready-to-engage population, currently frustrated by the status quo of episodic visits to doctors with a lack of continuity of care and support for self-management of diseases at home.

It’s important to realize that people with chronic conditions tend to be older. So the fact the vast majority of these patients would welcome a remote health monitoring technology at home to manage conditions, along with more information and tools for self-care, demonstrates that patients are indeed embracing technology in daily living for DIY life. Today, patients are ready for DIY healthcare at home. This is the new home care Holy Grail, and most patients will welcome it.

This blog was first published on Health Populi.

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