Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

Care Coordination, Patient Engagement Face Lack of Awareness

- Only one out of every five patients is fully aware of the number and type of therapeutic services available to them after a new diagnosis, according to a new survey by Accenture, which adds to widespread feelings of frustration and helplessness as patients try to plan a treatment regimen.  Despite the healthcare industry’s strong emphasis on care coordination and patient engagement as important tools for acute and chronic disease management, patients are not receiving the guidance, support, and risk analysis they desire from their healthcare providers.

Patient engagement and care coordination

Accenture polled ten thousand patients in five countries about their experiences with the healthcare system, including questions about their awareness of available services across the care continuum, the level of communication they achieve with their healthcare providers, and what aspects of patient engagement should be improved in order to help them better manage their own health.

Patients were generally dissatisfied with the way their care was handled immediately after a new diagnosis, with 65 percent reporting that the pre-treatment period was a deeply frustrating time for them. 

Providers who have been reluctant to invest in population health management and risk stratification technologies may be interested to know that the patients’ biggest gripe was not being made aware of their risk profile for certain diseases before they started to show symptoms.  More than one-third of patients would have liked to be made aware of their potential for developing a condition, a number that rises to 44 percent of patients with immune diseases. 

While it may seem as if patients prefer to turn to search engines and cell phones for information about their diseases, two-thirds still get the majority of their health information directly from their physician.  Eighty-seven percent stated that they want one point of contact to help manage their health, with a similar number believing that their primary care provider should be their care coordination hub.

But providers are not meeting this high demand for coordination and management, the survey respondents said.  Only nineteen percent of patients believe they are fully aware of all the resources available to them when facing treatment for a new condition. 

Yet when patients are educated about the services they should access for conditions ranging from heart disease to hormonal disorders to cancer, they are highly likely to make use of them.  Nearly sixty percent of patients who are informed of their options go on to use one of the services that can meet their needs, the poll found.  Close to seventy percent will consume educational materials, while just under half will take advantage of information on patient support groups.

Healthcare providers can develop several strategies to improve patient engagement and close care coordination gaps that leave patients confused and worried over their future.  In addition to increasing clinical analytics infrastructure that can provide the risk profiling and preparation that many patients crave, providers can make it a point to discuss options and opportunities, including patient portals and mHealth tools, with their patients after diagnosing them with a new condition.

Improving communication between patient and provider may be the first step towards containing the runaway healthcare costs that occur when patients are left to manage their health without guidance from a centralized primary care provider or medical home.  With value-based reimbursement becoming more integral to the sustainability of the healthcare industry, providers must meet the care coordination expectations of their patients if they wish to benefit financially from better chronic disease management, fewer preventable emergencies, and better long-term outcomes for patients who are eager to leverage tools that help them control their own health.

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