Chronic Illness Patients Need Your Care Now More Than Ever
COVID-19 has put a strain on health systems the world over. A new concern over the health of “non-essential” chronic patients is looming. While many healthcare providers have seen a spike in telehealth visits, the number of visits from patients suffering from chronic illnesses has dropped dramatically.
As the pandemic has developed, the phrase “non-essential” is now a part of our vocabulary. We have had to modify the way we work, socialize, and shop to fit this new model. But for people with chronic illnesses, viewing their need for care as “non-essential” and delaying treatment for their symptoms poses a new threat. Many healthcare providers fear a surge in emergency care for patients at the end of this pandemic.
The term “chronic illness” covers a broad range of diseases and conditions. These conditions require a “managed” approach of care over long periods. Treatment is often ongoing, and flare-ups can and do occur. As the pandemic has overwhelmed the healthcare system, many sufferers have delayed seeking care.
Having a robust patient-engagement plan is essential for successful chronic disease management. But with so much attention placed on containing and treating COVID-19 patients, a lack of strategies for chronic illness sufferers may put these patients at risk. Amid the messages that it’s best to avoid nonurgent visits, it’s easy to understand why some patients may be delaying care. Many patients are fearful of catching the disease and will seek to delay going to the emergency room. This approach only increases the number of admissions to emergency care in the long run.
Rather than leaving it up to the patient to seek care long after they need it, healthcare providers can take a proactive approach to keep their chronic patients safe.
Encourage patients to make a telemedicine visit. Patients should be encouraged to consult with their doctors regarding chronic disease management during this time. For patients who don’t have access to the internet or aren’t as comfortable with technology, encourage the use of telephone calls. Clinics should also promote patients to send photos of applicable symptoms if they are concerned.
Provide clarity over what a “telemedicine” visit is. Patients who aren’t comfortable with telemedicine may avoid using it because it sounds complicated. Communicating the simplicity of telemedicine to your patients can reduce these concerns. Some patients may worry that they won’t be talking with their doctor or that the visit is less personal. While telemedicine is not entirely new, it is a new concept to many in our society, so educating the population on how the new system will work is imperative for adoption.
Patients can increase their medication supplies. Many insurance companies are allowing 90-day supplies so patients can limit trips to the pharmacy. Some pharmacies are also providing medication delivery or curbside pickup now, so high-risk patients don’t have to walk inside the store.
Emphasize the importance of healthy habits during lockdown. For many chronic disease sufferers, diet and exercise can make them feel better; at the very least mentally if not physically. Chronic disease patients need to continue to practice healthy habits during this time.
Let patients know they can, and should reach out for help. Many patients feel uncomfortable about reaching out for extra help during this time. Healthcare providers must make it known that it is both okay, and necessary for chronic patients to continue to seek care.
Dr. Timothy Hoff, a Professor of Management, Healthcare Systems, and Health Policy at Northeastern University suggests a range of options for healthcare providers to be able to care for chronic illness patients during this time, and suggests that those clinics who have the capacity to focus on those patients, do so increasingly. Dr Hoff has suggested four steps that can help with the overload of work: one, bring physicians and nurses out of retirement and two, increase the use of telemedicine appointments. “Making some primary and urgent care offices in local communities open 24 hours a day, with certain hours allocated for specific types of care delivery, and staffed accordingly, is a third step. Redesigning workflows in these offices to care in more efficient ways to create a faster-moving but attentive assembly line, segmented by the type of care, is a fourth step.”
The demand placed on healthcare providers has increased during this difficult time. Some of the burden placed on providers can be relieved and improved by looking at the healthcare revenue cycle. Healthcare providers can maintain a favorable financial position during and following the current healthcare crisis by investing in the right tools and resources for proper billing and coding for remote visits.
Outsourcing to a revenue cycle management partner has many benefits for staff and patients. The right revenue management system will equip your practice with the communication and engagement tools to interact with your patients. Compliancy for chronic illness patients during this time is important for the management of their treatment and has a positive flow-on effect to the billing cycle.
Give the best care for your patient and outcome for your practice by removing the burden of administrative revenue cycle tasks. At Health Revenue 360, LLC, we combine leading technology with over 30 years of combined experience that works to keep your patients engaged and compliant.
We can help increase patient engagement, reduce the burden on administrative tasks, and work to keep your practice cash flow positive during this difficult time. Get in touch today to get started with our offer of an accelerated setup and no charges for the first three months.