Chronic conditions and disabilities typically come with a greater and more frequent need for medical care, but these conditions can also interfere with getting or making the most of that care. Practice support can help you as a healthcare professional provide more effective management for chronic illnesses.
Communication and Information
Chronic illness often increases the need for more frequent and in-depth communication between patients and providers. First, preparing a patient for the management of a chronic condition entails explaining the illness, treatments and likely progress of the disease in some detail. Another factor is that ongoing symptoms as well as newly arising issues can lead people with chronic diseases to have many questions for their practitioner.
Suppose you have a patient with multiple sclerosis, which presents continually variable symptoms and levels of disability. This patient will need the complex nature of their illness explained, as well as encouragement to continue to update your practice on changes to their condition. Good practice support tools can assist you in both providing patient education materials and receiving timely updates from patients about their conditions.
Flexibility and Ease in Scheduling
One important way that effective practice management can enhance your care for people with chronic illness is in regards to scheduling. People with debilitating symptoms or mobility challenges often find scheduling and keeping healthcare appointments more challenging. As a consequence, additional scheduling flexibility is sometimes needed.
An example is a person living with chronic migraine, whose symptoms can be not only disabling but also unpredictable. Unpredictable and frequent attacks can increase the likelihood of having to cancel appointments or needing to make an appointment on short notice. Accessible and flexible scheduling options are essential for people living with a disability that can disrupt the best-laid plans.
Online and Remote Tools and Interfaces
Remote and online services are a boon if you have patients for whom mobility limitations or incapacitating symptoms interfere with regular visits. Managing a chronic condition often involves checking in with a provider to make sure medication or other therapy is still working and that no additional concerns have arisen. A patient for whom travel to your clinic or facility is difficult or at times impossible can be better served by doing these simple follow-up appointments virtually.
While you may think elderly patients will find digital technology intimidating, older patients with multiple conditions can derive great benefit from online tools and phone apps, if they are user-friendly and clearly explained. Such digital supports can help them keep up with their appointments, medication times and provider’s instructions. One overlooked element is the support that such tools can provide to carers and family members in addition to the patients themselves. These elements can be incorporated into your practice support services.
Treatment Compliance and Success Monitoring
One of the most important elements of chronic disease management services is trying out and adjusting a variety of treatment paths to promote the optimum level of health and quality of life. Tracking the success of changing therapies and medications is another area where practice support tools can be beneficial. Accurate and easily accessible records enhance your ability to quickly see how a person’s treatment has been progressing.
Providing patients with access to a portal or similar application where they can review their history can give you and your patients a common set of facts to work from when discussing treatment. For example, your patient may subjectively believe that a prior therapy worked better or had fewer side effects than their current treatment, but a quick review of their treatment history can reveal whether this is objectively true.
Cost Management for Patients and Providers
Helping chronic disease patients manage the cost of their care can make them more likely to maintain compliance and consistency with their treatment plan. Your practice support system probably includes accounting and billing solutions like processing and recording payments. Some include options that allow patients to choose financing options if they can’t pay all at once. Likewise, making chronic disease management more cost-efficient for providers enables you to optimize your patients’ care without overusing practice resources and staff time.
Efficient and effective medical practice tools benefit all patients, but especially those living with chronic health challenges. By optimizing all the processes that contribute to treatment success and patient satisfaction, practice support services can help you build a healthy relationship with the patients who may need you most.