Clinicians face limitations that affect how and how much they are able to engage patients in their own care.
Low physician to patient ratios, patient quotas set by the healthcare system, not to mention the aging physician population, means that physicians find themselves in a difficult position.
They want to help, but they're limited on their most valuable resource: time.
Decreased time with patients results patients who struggle to understand and engage in their own health, which can turn into increased malpractice risk.
Patient satisfaction and outcome are directly tied to quality time with their clinicians. Especially when it comes to chronic illnesses, patients need more explanation and direction on how to treat their condition at home. Yet often physicians have to resort to educating patients with printouts.
With the increase of administrative expectations and time constraints placed on physicians, the way things currently stand, they will never be able to educate and engage their patients like they want to and like patients need.
All of these factors lead to higher expenditures in healthcare, increased burden on clinicians, and clinician burnout. With physician levels on the decline and patient numbers on the rise, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
What patients need is a care crew complete with peers, non-clinical health coaches, and their clinicians available to help them fight chronic disease. Here's what that looks like:
Extending the reach of your clinicians
Health coaching and patient peer support reaches beyond clinics and into the everyday lives of patients. With this added system of support, clinicians can focus on treating patients. Meanwhile health coaches field the questions and concerns of patients on a daily basis while participants in the community provide support, encouragement, and even some levels of health education.
1. Leverage peer support
Peer support is vital for patient performance. Social environment predicts patient progress - higher support equals higher success rates.
Disease prevention and care for chronic conditions happens primarily between doctor appointments. Clinicians need a volunteer workforce who can step in to support patients in their health journey on a day-to-day basis.
With the support of a health community, each patient can draw on practical experience and advice for treating diseases. Since this support is bi-directional, those who are giving advice benefit as much as those who need help.
2. Offer trained health coaches
Both cost-effective and outcome effective, health coaching is a key component in fighting chronic disease. Health coaches monitor daily symptoms, providing patients with real-time insight and informed advice on symptoms and concerns.
Because health coaches receive live data about patient symptoms 24/7, they can fill the void that patients need in everyday care.
With this knowledge, they can help patients meet their goals with actionable plans. Plans that are geared to help the patient with the unique circumstances and challenges they face.
All of this data is also available to the patient’s clinicians so they can monitor progress, engagement, and the disease.
3. Build collaborative care
Coaches and community work together to pinpoint health problems before they become emergencies.
For instance, a patient battling diabetes can ask questions about symptoms on a forum with other patients. Their coach or network of peers can provide input. As their coach monitors these interactions, he or she can watch for subtle symptoms of other issues like associated mental health problems to prevent sudden regressions.
With this model of comprehensive care, patients can not only treat existing problems, but also prevent future complications.
Health coaches can also help clinicians pinpoint which patients aren't engaged in the health community so the clinician can find an engagement and education program that works better for the patient's needs.
4. Move the frontline online
The coach acts as a frontline for health problems - preventing unnecessary appointments and guiding patients to proper care when needed. They answer questions that a patient would normally call their doctor’s office to ask, taking burden off of doctor’s office staff.
When health visits are needed, health coaches can prepare patients for the visit, saving clinicians valuable time.
They coach them on how best to prepare for the visit, how to verbalize their questions, and how to get the care they need. With this frontline in place, patients can expect to receive better comprehensive care from their appointments.
5. Make care accessible 24/7
The more barriers patients face, the less likely they are to improve their condition. And while barriers can present themselves in many different ways, our health community is geared to be accessible to all.
Many models for health coaching or peer interaction require patients to attend meetings. And while this model is effective, it is only effective IF the patient shows up. But in an online health community, patients have 24/7 access to their health community.
Care is accessible anytime, anywhere. Patients don’t need a call back from the doctor or an appointment. They can get real time answers from their health coach monitoring their situation on a daily basis.
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