As discussions of replacement of the Affordable Care Act continue and new plans are considered and implemented, healthcare organizations have much to consider. Significant aspects of finance, particularly insurance coverage and cost reimbursement, are in question and potential disarray. Providers may find themselves with significant budgetary challenges while still needing to provide good quality care.
Although the United States ranks high in its acute care capability, its management of chronic conditions lags much of the developed world. We have a population that faces consequences of lifestyle choices and habits with significant healthcare implications, such as high rates of heart disease and diabetes.
Chronic disease puts pressure on the entire healthcare system. According to some recent surveys, 91 percent of chronic patients feel that they need help in managing their conditions and 20 percent of patients express the need for 24-hour aid.
Thirty-nine percent of patients said they were, at best, somewhat knowledgeable about how to manage their conditions, while 43 percent were only somewhat confident that they knew their relevant metrics, whether cholesterol, weight, blood sugar level, or other important factor. Estimates of 2017 Medicare penalties for hospital readmissions are projected to $528 million, a nearly 26 percent jump over the previous year. The Center for Health Information and Analysis says that hospital readmissions cost Medicare $26 billion annually, with $17 billion being avoidable.
The state of patient involvement in chronic care needs help, stat. The numbers, while large, ironically are also encouraging. The industry can achieve significant savings, and some of the steps to do so aren’t wildly expensive or difficulty.
One is education. Too many patients don’t understand what they need to do and often are unaware of the personal statistics that help identify the need for help. Taking regular surveys to better understand patients is a valuable yet infrequently used technique. A quick set of questions with automated telephone collection can provide information to monitor, predict, and avoid typical condition problems. With the advent of smartphones, collecting basic patient data is easier than ever before.
Managers and executives at healthcare organizations should become familiar with some of these basic strategies that clinicians can use to create more efficient and effective care. By identifying condition changes in health, providers can better anticipate issues and undertake early intervention rather than respond to problems when they become critical and more expensive to address. In addition, treatment success rates improve, along with patient satisfaction.
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