How Telehealth Improves Chronic Care Management


How Telehealth Improves Chronic Care Management

Telehealth or digital health found many applications in contemporary society. In the post-pandemic era, people became aware that telemedicine can be geared toward treating chronic conditions. Electronic health records, mHealth, and remote patient monitoring are merely some technologies that allow patients to receive their clinical care in the comfort of their own homes. Coupled with wearable medical devices that track patients’ vitals and immediately report any changes to the patient’s medical professional, they are a powerful tool for chronic disease management.

What Is a Chronic Disease?

We define chronic disease as a condition that lasts three months or longer. It can be a condition affecting the body or the mind. Therefore we can utilize telehealth to treat not only physical conditions but also mental illnesses. Teletherapy is a prime example of that: it encompasses all forms of treatment through technology, whether conducted over the phone or the internet. Post-pandemic, there was a massive spike in mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Chronic care management solutions became a necessity transcending geographical limitations: patients in need of help shouldn’t worry about their ability to show up at their provider’s office. Instead, they should be able to receive the care they need anywhere.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic condition. These diseases are one of the leading causes of death in America and carry a substantial burden of healthcare-related costs. To that end, we should utilize chronic care management services to address this prevalent societal issue. Below is a non-exhaustive list of chronic conditions:

  • Heart disease and stroke: almost 900 000 American die annually of a cardiovascular condition. It is the leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Cancer: is the second leading cause of death in America. Cancer comes in many shapes or forms. A lot of them can, however, be caught early. Some of the causes of cancer include smoking, obesity, and ultraviolet radiation.
  • Diabetes: more than 37 million people in America have diabetes. This condition requires intense chronic care management, as it can quickly spiral into multiple complications, such as kidney failure, blindness, or amputation. People with type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to complications if they are obese, 45 or older, or physically inactive.

Financial Toll of Chronic Conditions

Aside from the obvious health-related problems, chronic conditions significantly impact the United States healthcare system economically. According to CDC, healthcare expenditures in the country are roughly 4.1 trillion annually. Chronic solutions are necessary to reduce the economic burden: $216 billion annually goes to treating cardiovascular disease and $147 billion in lost productivity on the job. Cancer care costs are expected to reach more than $240 billion by 2030, and the total estimated costs of diabetes care in 2017 were $327 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.

Telemedicine and Chronic Disease Management

We’ve established that chronic conditions significantly impact patients and the healthcare sector. To that end, telemedicine enters the picture to improve the quality of care delivered and reduce financial burdens. There are several ways in which providers can employ CCM in healthcare:

Asynchronous Modality:

As the name suggests, this type of care happens out of sync. Patients report their results for doctors to review them and reply later. This includes medical data, images, lab results, etc. After the provider reviews the data, a response follows in which the patient gets directions for the next steps in the treatment process.

Synchrounous Modality:

This method relies on live communication between a patient and a consulting medical professional. CCM services, in this instance, depend on video-conferencing, like in the cases of mental conditions, or the application of digital tools such as a digital stethoscope. The consulting medical professional reviews data in real time and suggests the next treatment steps.

Remote Patient Monitoring

This type of care relies on patient reporting their vitals or medical devices, collecting them, and automatically uploading them to EHR. Biosensors and glucometers report the patient’s condition over time, allowing doctors to keep track of continued progress, patient adherence, and other chronic care management services tools.

These devices include but are not limited to digital surveys, wearables, home monitoring devices, or mobile apps.

Benefits of Telemedicine for Chronic Disease Management

We’ve listed the problems arising from these conditions and how we can amend some of them. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the benefits of the utilization of these technologies:

  • Improved access to care:
    COVID-19 demonstrated that reaching the clinician’s office won’t always be possible. This is especially true, even in the aftermath of the pandemic, for patients who have disabilities or live in remote areas. CCM healthcare can address these issues. Providers can deliver care for physical or mental conditions, irrespective of their or their patients’ geographical locations.
  • Reduction of costs:
    Patients who receive care at home don’t have to worry about infectious diseases or potential lines in the waiting room. They also side-step traffic, commuting, and any complications that might arise from going into the doctor’s office.
  • Reduction of hospital readmissions:
    Patients enrolled in chronic care management programs reap multiple benefits. They are constantly receiving care in real-time per their reported results and conditions, allowing them to better stay on top of their health and become active participants in their healthcare delivery. This results in reduced hospital readmissions: engaged patients follow directions more, have better-reported medication adherence, and overall have better clinical results.
  • Lifestyle changes:
    Patients who require chronic care management usually need to make lifestyle changes. From quitting smoking to regular exercise, telemedicine allows them to keep in regular touch with their care provider remotely. Consequently, they can better manage their health and potentially prevent lapses of judgment if they’re unmonitored.

Vicert has decades of experience in the healthcare industry. We leverage our knowledge to develop chronic care management software, remote patient monitoring, and similar solutions to fit your exact needs. Book a call with us to find out more!