The impact of chronic disease on our population and our healthcare system is undeniable. Nearly two in three older Americans suffer from multiple chronic conditions. This makes it increasingly difficult for healthcare providers and caregivers to provide enough care to those who need it. Health issues go undetected, leading to increased hospitalizations for the patient and lowering their quality of life. To ensure everyone has access to the care they need to be well, chronic care management must be made easier for practices to provide.
While chronic care management programs have shown a positive impact on the outcomes of chronically ill patients, some practices are slow to take advantage of the financial incentives being offered by Medicare for providing the additional time and proactive support these patients require. It isn’t a lack of interest.
According to a recent survey, 93% of physicians wish they had help ensuring patients with multiple chronic conditions were adhering to their care plans. Physicians want to provide the best care to all their patients, but, in an era where we are consistently asked to ‘do more with less’, new initiatives and good intentions can easily fall through the cracks.
It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to meet the standards of care required by Medicare. To bill Medicare for CCM, practices must develop a care management plan, followed by at least 20 minutes of non-visit-based chronic care services per patient, per month. That means, if a practice has 1,000 CCM patients, they will need at least two dedicated nurses who care for these patients only. Additional costs to the practice could include equipment, materials, salaries, benefits and associated overhead such as office space for the additional staff. When faced with that kind of undertaking, it’s easy to understand why adoption is low.
While there is initial evidence that a single 20-minute call can make a difference for patients dealing with chronic diseases, patients accustomed to traditional in-office care might not yet understand or see the value in telehealth communications. They might think that the care they are receiving is “good enough” or that, given their medical issues, there is no potential for a higher quality of life. Additionally, patients have their own schedules and don’t always want to commit to spending 20-minutes every month with a healthcare provider.
Being more proactive with a patient’s health brings both clinical and fiscal benefits to all parties involved. With CCM partners ready and willing to take on the costs and risks associated with implementing the program, what do you have to lose?