Chronic illnesses are a major challenge for people across the U.S. Six in 10 American adults have a chronic condition, and four in 10 have two or more. Chronic care management often incurs a lifetime of med refills, frequent doctor visits, and check-ins with care teams. And this continuous experience can be stressful for patients, providers, and the healthcare system more broadly.
As healthcare confronts existential staffing and fiscal challenges, the industry needs to find ways to simplify and improve chronic care management. With recent tech advancements, digital health has emerged as a promising solution for managing chronic conditions and improving outcomes.
Here are six ways digital health can help chronic care management.
1. Streamlines communication between providers
Ensuring patients understand care guidelines and adhere to treatment plans can be difficult enough for one provider. But what if a person receives care from multiple clinicians?
Interoperability remains one of the biggest barriers for coordinating care in EHRs. But that’s where digital health can thread the needle. Some care management platforms seamlessly integrate with disparate systems, and give providers a longitudinal view of a patient’s care journey.
Furthermore, the best healthtech can connect providers from different teams — without ever having to make a phone call. When it comes to helping coordinate care, the best digital health platforms enable clinicians to easily identify reported patient data and tag the right medical professional for follow-up without causing operational friction with constant “back-and-forth.”
2. Extends care teams to more patients with chronic conditions — with less busy work
The benefits of automation in healthcare are numerous. But one advantage of using clinical workflow automation — supported by AI and natural language processing (NLP) — is that systems can extend care teams to more patients with less administrative work.
As the industry faces a historical healthcare workforce staffing crisis — and as patient volumes increase — that could mean the difference between staying in survival mode and building a more sustainable health system.
When choosing a digital healthcare platform, consider one that goes beyond basic text appointment reminders and, instead, intelligently engages patients and provides guidance along their chronic care journeys. Not only does this function help cut down on inbox messages and phone calls, but your providers will have more time in their schedules to hone-in on the most acute chronic care-related scenarios.
3. Helps patients with chronic conditions adhere to treatment plans
A principal challenge people with chronic illnesses face is adhering to taking prescribed medications. One survey found 28% of Americans aged 40 and above who were prescribed ongoing medication for a chronic condition failed to refill a prescription in time. The same study revealed 57% of those same patients missed a dose, 22% took a lower dose, and 14% stopped taking their medication altogether.
With medication compliance widely known to mitigate mortality due to chronic illness, ensuring your patients understand and follow treatment guidelines is imperative. Leaders should consider integrating an always-on digital health platform that automatically reminds patients to take their medications — and even lets providers know to help them refill those meds — to improve adherence without burdening their care teams.
4. Improves care for aging populations
Of all patient groups, aging adults are more likely to have a chronic illness. Nearly 95% of this demographic deal with one chronic condition, while 85% experience two or more.
As the U.S. ages more rapidly, health systems need to adopt digital health platforms that intelligently triage patient concerns, remind patients about medication schedules, and check in with aging patients to promote better outcomes — all without stretching already thinned-out healthcare staff and tight budgets.
And with more and more aging patients using digital platforms, it’s never been a better time to begin searching for the right healthtech to do just that.
5. Cuts costs all-too-often associated with routine care management tasks
Providers don’t enter the healthcare field to think about budgets. They go into healthcare to help people. But with resources wearing thin across the industry, it’s important to note that chronic care management is costly.
According to the CDC, 90% of the country’s $4.1 trillion expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. That’s why simplifying and improving chronic care management isn’t optional — it’s crucial for a solvent health infrastructure in the long and short term.
Healthtech offers a way forward by empowering clinicians with AI-supported digital platforms that meet patients where they are and guide them through complex care journeys — freeing up care teams to focus on performing at the top of their license. And this means hiring fewer staff members to fill gaps, reducing readmission rates, and improving patient satisfaction — saving health systems valuable resources and deploying clinicians to deliver best-in-class care in the process.
6. Enables better remote patient monitoring
Chronic care management differs from other care journeys in that patients often have to consider and follow their treatment plans indefinitely. This implies constantly checking basic indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. And these metrics are largely affected between doctor visits.
Providers can leverage remote patient monitoring to keep a better pulse on patients outside of hospital walls. Some digital healthcare tools — like Memora Health — even visualize and catalog patient data into a user-friendly care-team dashboard.
With a clearer window into the status of chronic care patients at home, clinicians can assess progress, quickly identify problem areas, and strategize how to intervene for better outcomes.
As patients confront their own chronic conditions at home, the healthcare industry needs to rethink how to help them along their complex care journeys. Adopting the right digital health platform can empower your care teams to better coordinate treatment with fewer routine tasks and improved satisfaction across the board.
Learn more about how your organization can automate clinical workflows.