'Drugs don't work in patients who don't take them.' -- Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
Non-adherence to medication or therapies is a grave issue that healthcare organizations across the globe find hard to tackle. In fact, adherence is one of the primary factors impacting the final care outcomes. While it seems like a prima facie problem of patient neglect, putting the onus of adherence completely on them is not the best idea.
Need for increasing patient involvement in healthcare planning
For any healthcare organization, it is necessary to identify how they can improve their existing care strategies. Patients are now demanding shorter waiting periods, access to their own medical records, and more contextual information into their health plans. In this regard, listening to patients and engaging with them at each level of care delivery is important.
In fact, unengaged patients are thrice as likely to have unmet medical needs as compared to engaged patients. The logic is simple - they are less likely to consult their providers or follow their bits of advice with enough sincerity. In turn, they end up incurring up to 21% higher cost of care.
Reasons for not adhering to care procedures may vary from person to person. Some patients may stop taking medicines if they experience some side effects, or do not see immediate benefits, among others. Fewer still may discontinue their medications for no particular reason without consulting their physicians. Many such reasons combined together cost the US healthcare at least $300 billion each year. Sharing easily-understood educational and general insights, supporting patients’ self-management skills, and providing them with social support, among other things, is closely associated with better care outcomes.
Bottlenecks associated with increasing provider-patient collaboration
Historically, patients have solely relied on their providers for information on their health and had very little say in how care may be delivered. As consumerism started growing in the healthcare space, patients started empowering themselves with relevant information by asking the right questions. Yet, lack of provider-physician face-time and limited communication medium resulted in practically very limited participation from their end.
Provider-patient collaboration is one aspect of care that requires continuous to- and from communication between the two stakeholders. However, facilitating seamless collaboration requires more than just the right policies. Without the presence of enough patient education and outreach channels, many patient involvement strategies fall flat. Only those organizations who are able to make their data centrally accessible for everyone involved in real-time are able to reduce excessive utilization.
Provider-patient collaboration begins with reaching out to them
For comprehensively involving patients in the care paradigm, it is necessary to understand their pain points inside and out before acting on them. When treatment begins, providers need to first analyze patient expectations and then educate them regarding their treatment procedures.
However, organizations cannot and should not limit this interaction to the initial days of treatment. Further, it’s always advisable to hold such interactions beyond the four walls of the facilities as well. In this age and time, it’s only relevant to look beyond conventional modes of communication and identify new avenues to meet patient demands.
Reaching out to patients digitally is a rather simple process if an organization has a dedicated team, updated technologies, and concrete workflows in place for this process. To begin with, care managers can identify the preferred mode of communication and underlying adherence patterns. They can then reach out to them in their desired medium as and when it is required. If replicated on a population level, this strategy can go a long way in optimizing care and cost outcomes for all the enrollees. However, it is often easier said than done.
The more patients and providers talk, the better it gets
Bidirectional communication through digital mediums can help the US healthcare to move away from the era of physicians telling patients what to do each time they see them. For instance, if provider organizations are able to fetch real-time data from wearables and send educational material to their patients based on that data, patients can take proactive care initiatives. Unsurprisingly, online patient involvement can result in a 90% satisfaction rate for providers and patients alike.
However, there is a very subtle difference between educating patients and overburdening them with information. Providers should try to send across their suggestions or prescriptions in a manner that is understandable to patients. For instance, texting patients can increasemedication adherence by more than 17%; however, efforts should be made in the direction of making the conversation as simple as possible. If both patients and providers have a clear understanding of what the other stakeholder needs to know at any given time, participation and accountability of both of them increase drastically.
Effective outreach can power care management and PHM
Organizations who have automated channels for patient outreach stand a chance of winning big in a value-based care environment. By pushing out bulk reminder emails, organizations can reduce no-shows, increase medication adherence, and maximize follow-up visits. Over time, such initiatives can reduce care gaps considerably, and eventually, overall costs.
The goal of healthcare organizations that are in the process of finalizing their strategies around outreach management should be to fasten the push towards patient-centric care. As much as 76% of patients want to know more about their health programs, and connecting with them through digital medium could be the best way for increasing their satisfaction.
Today, physicians spend only about 27% of their time on direct clinical face time. Through digital outreach, organizations can complement their efforts by creating patient education and awareness channels outside the four walls of the care facilities. In this manner, they can better utilize the time they have by focusing on the most pressing issues that their patients face and manage their populations more effectively.
The road ahead
At least every fifth dollar spent on healthcare is wasted. With everyone echoing the sentiment of reducing costs while improving care outcomes, the provider-patient collaboration will determine how things pan out in the future. Empowered patients hold the key to success under value-based care, something that most healthcare leaders today believe. In years to come, we will see patients asking the right questions at the right time more often than not, and we will move a step closer towards cost-effective, quality-focused care.
To know more about how you can leverage a data activation platform to bring patients closer to their care teams, get a demo.
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