Redefining Healthcare: Proactive Solutions for Chronic Conditions

Updated on March 11, 2024

The US healthcare system faces a pressing challenge marked by rising emergency room visits and a high prevalence of chronic diseases among adults. This critical situation necessitates an urgent shift towards proactive healthcare strategies. Emphasizing innovative solutions like mobile healthcare and coordinated care, these strategies hold the potential to enhance patient outcomes and significantly reduce healthcare costs. It has been estimated that $265 billion worth of care services could shift from traditional facilities to the home by 2025. This is especially important as the American Medical Association President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, spotlighted the growing national physician shortage and corresponding health system in crisis as 83 million people in the US currently live in areas without sufficient access to primary care services.

About 60% of American adults are impacted by chronic diseases, calling for an approach to healthcare that is more integrated and continuous, going beyond traditional acute and preventive treatments. Proactive healthcare advocates for a collaborative model in which medical systems, providers, and patients work together towards a comprehensive 12-month wellness cycle. This model uniquely integrates medical, social, behavioral, and financial aspects of health.

Chronic conditions that are not effectively managed can result in avoidable emergency room visits, which adds substantial costs for both patients and the healthcare system. Proactive healthcare, with its regular monitoring and management, can greatly reduce these costs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimated that up to 37% of ED visits could be safely referred to other lower cost settings.  Mobile healthcare, a key element of this strategy, strengthens the patient-provider relationship by delivering personalized care directly to patients’ homes. This enables treatments that are tailored to the specific living conditions and needs of each individual.

Coordinated care is a cornerstone of this proactive approach. It involves strategic annual planning to identify health risks and enhance patient outcomes. This method includes developing disease-specific care plans and employing technology to improve interactions between patients and providers. Given that patients often forget 40-80% of medical information given by healthcare professionals, regular quality touches through digital tools and applications are valuable for effectively educating patients and managing their health.

Effective healthcare management is also vital. Routine home visits by healthcare professionals can lead to the appropriate escalation of services based on objective information readily available to the provider preventing more severe health complications. Transitional care management is especially critical for patients with limited access to services, such as those covered by Medicaid, ensuring continuous and accurate care post-discharge and helping reduce readmissions due to medication errors or misunderstandings which has been noted to be 50% of the time in studies.  

The successful implementation of these strategies requires deep understanding and collaboration among healthcare payers, partners, and patients. Addressing challenges like limited healthcare access in rural areas is crucial. Deployable medical vehicles, equipped with essential medical equipment, bring healthcare services to these remote locations, ensuring that quality care is accessible to all, regardless of geography. Approximately 75% of all outpatient visits result in the prescribing of new or continued medication(s), therefore patients and primary care providers need to understand and follow all active medical visits.

Looking ahead, the integration of mobile healthcare strategies into the US healthcare system appears promising. A more integrated approach within primary care, supplemented by collaborations with non-traditional entities like retail partners, can lead to a more comprehensive healthcare experience. Success in this endeavor depends on the integration of a wide range of services, including transportation, health plans, and community support systems.

Patient education and engagement on their conditions and the importance of regular care can significantly improve their involvement in managing their health. Using various educational tools, workshops, and digital platforms empowers patients, making them active participants in their healthcare journey. Active participation in health literacy improves the health of patients with chronic diseases.

Technological advancements play a significant role in this transformative approach. From telemedicine to mobile health apps, technology has revolutionized healthcare, making it more accessible and personalized. These tools facilitate better communication between patients and providers and offer real-time monitoring and data analysis, leading to more informed decision-making in patient care.

Moreover, the integration of preventive measures is essential. Enhanced access to regular screenings, vaccinations, and health education are vital components of preventive care, contributing to early disease detection and treatment. This not only improves health outcomes, but also reduces healthcare expenditures over time.

The proactive healthcare model emphasizes the importance of mental health services in managing chronic diseases. Chronic physical health conditions often have significant psychological impacts, and addressing these aspects is crucial for comprehensive patient care. Incorporating mental health services, such as counseling, support groups, and stress management programs, is essential for overall patient well-being as well as a reduction in overall healthcare spending.

Embracing a proactive healthcare approach, with a focus on mobile healthcare and coordinated care, is key to transforming the US healthcare system. This strategy goes beyond treating diseases to create an inclusive healthcare environment emphasizing wellness, education, and accessibility. By adopting this approach, the healthcare system can reduce emergency room visits, manage chronic diseases more efficiently, and ensure equitable care for all. The path forward involves embracing innovation, fostering patient engagement, and building a more integrated and responsive healthcare ecosystem.

James Powell
James Powell, M.D.
CEO of Clinical Practice Group at DocGo

James Powell, M.D., is DocGo CEO of Clinical Practice Group.