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How to Enable Self-Management in a Scalable Way

Posted by Siobhan Bulfin on Jul 24, 2019 12:07:00 PM

Over 75% of the population is uneasy about the rising cost of health care and the economic damage it may cause.

A large percentage of the U.S. budget is directed to health care accounting for 20% of GDP. Clinics and health systems are managing greater patient needs while dealing with expenses that are multiplying faster than ever before. Clinicians need scalable ways to empower patients with chronic conditions to take active roles in their care.


What the U.S. population currently looks like

It’s helpful to visualize chronic disease populations in a pyramid. The top two tiers represent around 20 percent of the population who have severe complications or high risk conditions. The third layer represents the 70-80 percent of the U.S. population who have non-complex chronic conditions. These are the patients who can improve their conditions with self-management.

The fourth layer illustrates around 133 million Americans who are living with metabolic syndrome. This cluster of conditions, which includes high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity, can also benefit from self-management and prevention. With behavior changes and engagement techniques, this segment of the population can prevent the onset of chronic illness.

What health systems are facing

The majority of U.S. patients can prevent or delay non-complex chronic conditions through lifestyle changes. But they need support in getting started. The problem clinicians face is that many patients aren’t adhering to their care plans which is generally limited to verbal advice or a pamphlet. 

Consider cardiovascular disease, for example the number one killer in the US. If not managed can lead to heart failure.  Across the U.S. patients with heart disease have poor adherence to medication and lifestyle changes which are critical for managing their health. This results in more trips to the ER and more hospitalizations. 

Patients need education and prevention

As chronic illnesses rise, so do patient needs. To self-manage these conditions, patients must understand their condition and be equipped with basic know-how on how to manage it.

Typically, clinicians provide educational resources and training during in-person appointments. But this method of prevention isn’t scalable. To prevent chronic disease and lower health care costs, clinicians need tools and resources that help them respond to patients’ needs.

Primary care clinicians can’t scale with traditional methods

Clinicians need to address patients with non-complex conditions. Otherwise, health systems will eventually be over run by chronic conditions and comorbidities. However, primary care physicians cannot scale patient needs with traditional methods.

Here are the reasons why:

For starters, long-established medical methods have focused on treating existing conditions rather than preventing future ones. While this approach continues to improve the lives of many patients, the climate of health care is changing. And the rate of chronic disease is increasing. These ongoing conditions cannot be treated in the same way that pneumonia, sepsis or broken bones can be treated. 

Chronic disease is often the result of a variety of factors including social determinants of health, genetic factors and other lifestyle factors. If care providers are going to help patients, they have to get to the root cause of each chronic disease. But even among patients with similar chronic illnesses, there are different contributing factors. 

Needless to say, treating these conditions takes ongoing communication between medical professionals and patients—and this takes time. With the current medical paradigm, meeting the mounting needs is not feasible.

3 keys to enable scalable self-management

Because clinicians are focused on their patients, they don’t often have time to formulate scalable measures that enable self-management. That’s why Melon created a platform to improve patient engagement and to allow clinicians to focus on helping patients that need it most.

Integrate with clinical workflows

Clinicians don’t have time to figure out complex software systems. Understanding this constraint, Melon’s platform was designed to put a premium on clinicians’ time. If it’s not efficient for clinicians, then it’s not a viable solution. 

Melon optimizes a clinician’s workflow by integrating with their existing workflow and reducing their workload. One way we optimize clinicians’ time is through health coaching. Via online platforms, coaches educate and assist patients while allowing clinicians to monitor progress and intervene as needed.

Respect clinicians’ time

Clinicians need to access their patients’ conditions and symptoms—without having to manage pesky alerts and emails. One Mayo clinician said “If a patient could come to their appointment and in 30 seconds, show me on their phone their progress and symptoms since last visit  - that’s what I’m interested in”. Anything longer than that would take too much time. 

Melon can give clinicians a comprehensive view of patient engagement in under 30 seconds. With this feature, medical staff can view the whole picture of patient progress. In turn, patients feel seen, heard and understood. 

Leverage a volunteer workforce

Patients with similar conditions are uniquely situated to help each other learn and grow.

Via Melon’s online platforms, patients can meet other peers with similar conditions. They can learn from each others’ progress and mistakes. This means clinicians are no longer the only source of education and encouragement for patients. The end result is that patients can carry their coach, care plan, and support team in their pocket for 24/7 support.

Ready to support your non-complex chronic disease population in self-management? Download “The 5 Steps To Enable Supported Self-Management.”


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Topics: patient engagement, scaleable healthcare, whole person care

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