Is Chronic Care Management Even Worth It? (Spoiler Alert: The Answer is Yes)

When a leader in the CCM industry goes under – what does that say about the industry itself? This is the question we can all ask ourselves right now. And with good reason. Do patients in a CCM program really benefit?

Adoption of the program has been slow and there are a number of patients and physicians who haven’t seen the value yet. However – as we look at the overall picture – as we look at actual population health statistics – the answer is clear:

CCM is making a difference.

While our own research is still in its early stages, an initial clinical outcomes study of Wellbox CCM has found that our patients are healthier; and thousands of dollars in medical costs are being saved.

There’s a reason Medicare promotes the program and is willing to pay 80% of the cost. The bottom line is that patients overall are experiencing the positive effects of participation.

Just this week, Congress and the Department of Health and Human services released news of their increased focus on those with chronic illness. In fact – they are revamping the Medicare program and providing more benefits to those who are chronically ill.

The government is putting more money into chronic patient health through Medicare because the positive outcomes have been seen in:

  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Adherence to recommended therapies,
  • Improved clinician efficiency, and
  • Decreased hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits.

When provided the facts – medical providers can’t deny that the program has its merits.

But like most things – there is no one size fits all solution, no silver bullet. CCM providers need to have a strategic plan but they also need to stay nimble and recognize when a new approach, technology or business model is not delivering the potential value CCM has to offer.

So let’s shift the focus of conversation – let’s stop asking ourselves “is CCM even worth it?” and start asking “how do I know if my CCM provider is doing this correctly?”

As a CCM provider, here is our perspective on what we’ve seen work. 

The Right People, With the Right Values

When a CCM provider values patient health first – the process follows in such a way that is thoughtful, meaningful, and patient-centric. When they bring on people who support a patient-centric model they can then deliver on that model.  When you are considering a CCM provider take a look at the leadership team and the team of people who will be interacting with your patients.  Is the caliber of employees equal to or greater than the people you hire within your own office?  You are trusting your chronic care patients to their care – make sure you are putting them in the right hands!

Transparency with Clinical Outcomes Data

Every CCM provider should be studying their patient population and every practice should understand those results. Transparency is key to a successful partnership and data provides an important starting point to both solving problems and proving value.

A Thoughtful Patient-Centric Approach

Take an objective view of the approach of the CCM provider.  Do they take the special needs and preferences of a patient into consideration? As an example, Medicare patients are ages 65 and up – if a program relies too heavily on patient adoption of a new technology enrollment and engagement will suffer.  If a CCM provider considers patient needs and capabilities first – the patients are better served.  By enabling our own staff with technology, we are able to keep the patients comfortably engaged in their own health while keeping the barriers to adoption and engagement low.

Respect for Practice Workflow

Busy, inundated with patients, and flooded with new med-technologies  — this is the life of the modern-day physician. CCM providers are aware of this and will actively work to adapt to the partner’s practice. Documentation can and should be done directly in the physicians EMR – just as their in-office staff do. There should be no change in workflow, no disruption to the practice, no additional logins or systems and no lengthy software implementation.  Our job as a CCM provider is to make implementation, enrollment and clinical care compliance simpler, for practices and patients alike, to adopt and stick with.  It’s a new industry and there will be bumps in the road, even for the best of companies, but a good partner will work with you to navigate those bumps and do everything in their power to absorb the issues so you can focus on what’s most important – the health and well-being of your patients.

Putting patients first will lead to success. As we move towards a model that places more value on patient health while respecting the physicians’ time and resources – we’ll see a big difference in the approach and business model of the CCM providers and even better outcomes as a result!

About the Author

Patrick Stevenson is the Care Management Services Officer for Wellbox, the all-inclusive solution for tracking and billing for Chronic Care Management and Annual Wellness Visits, as well as offering in-demand Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring services.

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