How Telehealth Supports Chronic Disease Management
According to a May 2, 2022 Medical Economics article by Daniel Tashnek, “With the recent coverage and reimbursement changes, a comprehensive care management program can make a significant difference in a healthcare organization’s bottom line.”
Tashnek is referring to the CMS 2022 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), which includes a significant reimbursement increase for some chronic care management services. Part of this awareness may have come out of positive treatment experiences during the COVID pandemic, but it may also be an acknowledgement of the increased efficiency of telehealth and digital technology in managing chronic care patients.
CMS itself states that Chronic Care Management, or CCM, is a key primary care service which does contribute to better patient care. The necessity for a different type of management system is highlighted by data which indicate that nearly 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions that require such provider interaction. The most common of these conditions are obesity, hypertension, COPD, and congestive heart failure, but can also include asthma, cancer, stroke, addiction treatment, and age-related cognitive impairment.
This type of intensive intervention requires a comprehensive, patient-specific care plan and ongoing support to help patients achieve their wellness goals, and reduce the need for additional healthcare services. Unfortunately, this is the very patient population with mobility and transportation issues, which make it difficult to sustain regular appointments. The use of Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), in conjunction with telehealth appointments, makes it easier for the patient and the provider. This article looks at how your independent practice can utilize telehealth for chronic disease management.
Benefits of Telemedicine in Chronic Disease Management
The Tashnek article focuses more on the financial benefits of telehealth for chronic care diseases, but the patient and practice benefits are equally as important. By using telehealth solutions to work with this patient population, providers are able to provide a high level of personalized and ongoing preventive care. The end goals are to improve overall health, but also decrease hospitalizations and lower costs throughout the healthcare system.
Some of the other benefits your private practice can achieve with a telehealth video platform include:
- Remotely deliver in-home patient care to the chronic care population.
- Initiate secure text conversations with patients instantly and easily.
- Initiate telehealth video visits with the click of a button.
- Maintain logs of chats and videos for billing and audit records.
- Reduce costs and increase reimbursements to help your practice survive and thrive.
Modern telemedicine software helps providers confirm a diagnosis, provide treatment options, and write prescriptions. In some cases, your healthcare providers can even keep an eye on patient conditions by monitoring readings using remote medical devices.
How Can Your Practice Use Telehealth to Improve Communications Between Patient and Provider?
While telehealth is often thought of as the videoconferencing portion of patient care, it can take many other forms in terms of providing chronic disease management, including:
Providers can send gentle reminders through secure messaging systems to remind patients of upcoming appointments, medication changes, and testing requirements.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
RPM provides patients with digital monitoring equipment to assist in measuring blood pressure, glucose levels, and other vital statistics. This information is then sent to their provider, who can look for any anomalies and provide immediate care adjustments.
Because there is so much to manage with chronic conditions, patients may have a number of questions that need to be answered. This can be difficult with a traditional phone contact system, but a patient portal allows the patient to ask the questions, which the provider can read and answer within a reasonable time.
Education is the key to better health management, but lessons often need to be presented in easy-to-understand short segments. The telehealth communication models help to provide information in a manner that is most helpful for the patients.
Providers can use telehealth functions to share lab results, imaging studies, and other reports with patients and/or medical specialists.
Patients in remote areas with chronic conditions have been traditionally underserved, due to distance and logistical constraints. Telehealth flattens the playing field by making care available to anyone with access to a computer and internet connection.
Assess New Symptoms
Instead of waiting until the next in-person appointment, providers can assess new symptoms more quickly with telehealth. A symptom may indicate nothing concerning, or it may show that the current condition is deteriorating or another condition is emerging. The provider can then assess the overall health situation, make any necessary changes to the treatment plan, or refer the patient for a more intensive work-up or emergency care services.
How to Choose the Right Telehealth Solution for Your Private Practice
With the increased reimbursement rates, CMS has signaled that providers should be more motivated to offer a connective care model between in-person office visits. They are incentivizing practices to develop comprehensive care plans in order to drive better patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and increase the quality of life for the chronic care patient population.
To make the best use of telehealth solutions for your private practice, look for a provider that:
- Understands the needs of small- to medium-size private practices.
- Has an established track record of innovative and helpful digital solutions.
- Offers digital options that are easy to integrate and use.
- Includes easy patient access and use.
- Posts regular system updates.
- Provides telephone, email, chat and immediate remote access to U.S.-based support personnel on a 24/7 basis.
- Provides no-charge demonstrations and affordable pricing options.
Amazing Charts was founded in 2001 by a practicing family physician, who was all-too-familiar with the challenges clinicians encounter on a daily basis. In 2017, Harris Healthcare acquired Amazing Charts to be the centerpiece of its healthcare group, which is comprised of several ambulatory care solutions. With the acquisition, the Amazing Charts family of products has grown to include Harris CareTracker, digiChart, Clinix, MEDfx, Pulse, and Doc-tor.com. The wealth of knowledge from additional client practices and staff has only strengthened our overall understanding of the space.
Key Takeaways About Telehealth for Chronic Disease Management
Telehealth can be a major support in providing better access to care for chronic disease management. It is easier for providers and patients to communicate and keep tabs on the variety of symptoms and care techniques that are involved with complex illnesses. Patients who receive higher levels of care are more likely to become fully engaged in managing their own care, helping to alleviate symptoms and decrease the need for emergent care. The result is a better quality of life for patients, but also the potential for a more reliable revenue stream for your independent practice.
Amazing Charts Helps Independent Practices Integrate Telehealth Support Services
Amazing Charts has grown consistently by creating easy-to-use solutions for delivering patient care and monitoring billing processes. Today, we offer a variety of capabilities to help small, independent practices succeed, including Electronic Health Records (EHR), Practice Management, Medical Billing Services, Population Health, Telehealth, and Remote Care. Call 866-382-5932 or visit our website to learn about our products, schedule a practice consultation, arrange a free trial, and find more information on using telehealth to support chronic disease management.