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February 9, 2021 | 6 Ways Virtual Care Can Help Improve Your Heart Health

Fighting heart disease is not easy. With more than a third of Americans being affected by at least one heart condition, missing visits can be harmful but getting to the doctor’s office can also be a challenge – particularly during a pandemic. As a result, many doctors have begun offering virtual care programs as an alternative or in addition to in-office visits.

If you are interested in enrolling in one of these programs, you may be wondering how it can improve your heart health and benefit you in the long run. Below, we outline a few ways these programs can make a difference with your long-term heart health.

 

What is virtual care?

Virtual care can be defined as delivering healthcare and education over a distance using electronic and telecommunication technologies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can include text messaging, phone calls, and interactive content on an electronic device.

These different aspects can be helpful in ensuring you can send your health data to your healthcare provider, receive personalized appointment reminders, and set relevant health and wellness goals.

Programs that offer these services can include Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), which uses devices to record your health data such as blood pressure to send to your provider. It can also include Care Management, such as Chronic Care Management and Principal Care Management, which connects you to a care team that can help you better manage your heart health with consistent phone calls and tailored care plans.

Heart conditions that can be managed by these programs can include high blood pressure, heart failure, and cardiovascular disease.

 

#1 Empowering Changes in Your Lifestyle

When you enroll in a virtual care program, you are met with regular outreaches from a care team that encourages you and offers accountability in helping you adjust your lifestyle. For example, depending on the program, they may work with you to create a personalized care plan and coach you based on your provider’s recommendations. They may also monitor your health data and address any health concerns that appear.

Lifestyle changes can help improve your heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. These tips include becoming more physically active, knowing your blood pressure numbers, committing to a treatment plan to manage your condition, eating less processed foods, avoiding tobacco smoke, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Based on your personal health and conditions, they could suggest practical and relevant ways for you to reach your goals by expanding on these ideas.  Changing personal habits is not always easy, but having someone who can support, encourage, and keep you on track is a proven success factor!

 

#2 Getting the Care You Need, When You Need It

Virtual care programs are becoming more prevalent, especially during the pandemic, because of their ability to make healthcare accessible to everyone. While many people have struggled in the past to get the in-person care they needed because of transportation issues, weather conditions, minor illnesses, or because they lived in rural areas with limited access to care, virtual care offers a new opportunity.

The ability for people to connect with their healthcare provider or care team at their convenience makes it easier for them to receive timely cardiology care and recommendations. For example, your care team can collaborate with your provider to ensure you have the right medication to assist with your conditions and avoid health concerns such as elevated blood pressure.

While in-person visits are still beneficial, virtual programs help patients get care sooner. It could also offer a chance for patients to discuss with their care team when they should be evaluated in person.

 

#3 Greater Communication with Your Virtual Care Team

As mentioned above, virtual care can offer you greater communication with your care team and healthcare providers. The outreaches are done by phone or mail ensure you stay connected to them and feel comfortable enough to discuss your journey while staying informed with educational materials relevant to your conditions. They also help support you along your health journey, encourage you, and work with you to ensure you know you can live a healthier life.

This increased communication is a great benefit because people often are not sure of what to share about their health in a traditional office visit. They may not remember how their health has changed since their last visit, they are worried about changes in their medication, or they are afraid of being admitted to the hospital, according to AJMC.

When you connect with your care team between office visits, they can share what you discuss with your provider and collaborate with them to offer you the care you need right then. This can then improve the quality of your office visits because your provider will be more informed of your health status.

 

#4 Early Detection of Heart Health Concerns

Along with this increased communication, virtual care programs like RPM and Care Management can also allow your healthcare providers to notice any health concerns sooner.

Since your healthcare provider may only see you a few times a year in person, there could be months in between office visits. Your doctor could be unaware of rising health concerns or not updated on your status.

Staying connected to your healthcare team with virtual care and its consistent touchpoints can help address health concerns or complications earlier when they are easier to treat, or even prevent. This outreach can also allow them to intervene before an emergency visit is needed.

For example, RPM monitors your heart health between office visits through convenient devices like blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters, which report this data in real-time. These devices then relay that information to your provider and care team. So, if the data showed you had increasingly high blood pressure, your care team could alert your provider of these levels and then coordinate a change in medication.

 

#5 Stay Involved in Your Heart Health Decisions

An important aspect of virtual care’s effectiveness is its ability to help you stay involved in your health decisions. Whether you enroll in a Care Management or RPM program, you gain personalized health and wellness information meant to assist you on your health journey because of the consistent outreach.

Within the care management programs, you will discuss and develop a care plan specific to your needs and goals. This plan can include lifestyle recommendations such as ways to maintain your blood pressure, overall health monitoring, and assistance with scheduling specialist appointments. With each phone call, you can discuss what works best for you and discuss practical ways to reach your goals.

Within the RPM program, the data your device(s) report upon will help guide the health coaching calls from your care team to ensure you are on track to reaching your goals. Tracking this data with your device(s) can also encourage you to become more involved with your daily health progress on the days you do not interact with your nurse. This is because you can easily track your conditions in real-time and gain a better understanding of your health decisions.

 

#6 Improve Quality of Life with Virtual Care

Among its many benefits, virtual care programs like Care Management and Remote Patient Monitoring can ultimately improve quality of life.

It can be overwhelming to manage health concerns like heart conditions while working with several healthcare providers. Virtual care helps coordinate your care with your healthcare team so you can spend less time managing it and more time doing what you love.

The consistent monitoring and communication from the programs can lead to lower healthcare costs such as helping you avoid unnecessary hospital visits and helping you find better-priced medications. Virtual Care can also assist in lowering stress from transportation issues while possibly providing you with a list of free, local resources and social services based on their availability and your needs.

Finally, these programs allow people to receive more information and support about their specific health needs which allows them to reach their health goals in tangible ways, leading them to be more satisfied with their care. This could be why programs like Wellbox have patients consistently report a 90%+ satisfaction rate with its services and programs.

 

Improved Heart Health Outcomes

All these aspects of virtual care programs can help support better heart health. In fact, studies show these solutions have helped people improve their heart health in several ways. They include lowering patients’ blood pressure levels, reducing the rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to heart failure, and helping patients become half as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

These studies prove that virtual care programs such as RPM and Care Management can help patients better their heart disease, improve their cardiovascular health, and live healthier lives.

 

If you would like to learn more about enrolling in a virtual care program, talk to your healthcare provider or contact us to find out the first step to enrolling in a Wellbox program.

 

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