Health care consumerism is often accompanied by visions of a data and technological revolution.
The desire to provide health care consumers with choice and convenience is a worthy one, but — as this Forbes article points out — the implementation of that is often relevant only to a key consumer: one that is digitally savvy, engaged, highly educated, and with significant disposable income.
As digital natives come of age, it will continue to be important to cater to them. However, health care costs are not generated evenly by each generation.
Chronic diseases are among the most prevalent and costly health conditions in the United States. The prevalence of chronic disease has increased steadily among people of all ages in recent years. A study by RAND found that 60% of the population has at least two chronic conditions, and 42% have two or more chronic conditions. These patients account for 90% of all health expenditures in the United States.
The profile of this patient differs greatly from the tech-savvy millennial typically conjured up when it comes to health care consumerism. The CDC reports that these patients tend to be older and are more likely to be covered by Medicare — three out of four Americans aged 65 and older have multiple chronic conditions. And according to the American Journal of Managed Care, Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions:
This is due to the fact that people with multiple chronic conditions have more complicated health needs than their peers—adding another layer of complexity and cost to their health care. Due to the nation's rapidly aging population and a nationwide increase in risk factors for chronic disease—such as obesity—this trend shows no sign of dwindling.
However, the bulk of advice on the rise in health care consumerism mostly addresses the 40% of the population without chronic conditions. The health care industry is taking note, as are others, leading to a new view of health care consumerism that is sorely needed. The initiatives listed below take the definition of health care consumerism to heart: they protect or promote the interests of consumers — in this case, patients.
Value-based care takes many forms, such as CMS' MIPS or ACOs, and prioritizes overall patient outcomes and wellness.
Care coordination programs have gained attention over the last several years from both the health care community and governing bodies such as CMS. Research published by the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) found that implementing care coordination programs has been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce direct and indirect health care costs.
Projects across the country are addressing social determinants of health with the goal that they will help curb overall health care spending. For example, health systems are partnering with new players, such as ride sharing companies, to improve access to care.
Convenience — a key pillar in health care consumerism — is especially key for patients with chronic conditions. Make sure your practice is equipped to provide comprehensive care for chronic conditions, especially diabetes and CHF. You can do this by bringing point-of-care testing in-house to reduce the number of offices your patients have to visit for care.
Offer your patients solutions to help with medication adherence and to ultimately support improved patient behavior.
While traditional in-office visits are still predominant, the rising popularity of telehealth cannot be ignored as more patients seek convenient and cost-effective alternatives. According to the Advisory Board, Medicare FFS telehealth volumes increased tenfold from 2011–2016.
Medicare beneficiaries see a median of two primary care physicians and five specialists per year. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that beneficiaries with certain chronic diseases see even more—a median of 8–10 physicians per year for heart failure and diabetes. This is an astounding number of appointments, test results, and follow-ups to keep track of. Help alleviate this burden for your patients with a chronic care management platform.
« Back to All Industry Insights