The current state of healthcare is, unfortunately, not that different than it was 30 years ago. Despite technology evolution and government intervention, many of the challenges healthcare faced in the 1990s – cost, quality, and access – remain today.
In the areas of quality and access, healthcare has moved the needle forward with advancements such as EMRs, CRMs, the Affordable Care Act, and telehealth. Reducing healthcare costs, however, is a hurdle that’s only getting more difficult to overcome.
In fact, National Health Expenditure grew 5.8 percent to $3.2 trillion in 2015, or $9,990 per person. These expenditures are expected to grow at an average rate of 5.8 percent per year between 2017 – 2025.
In order to combat the growing cost of services, healthcare providers need to take an active role in promoting proactive healthcare. With targeted communication and improved engagement, physicians can put patients back in the driver’s seat and help them take control of health outcomes.
Let’s take an in-depth look at how proactive health can help healthcare combat rising costs and improve patient engagement:
Defining Proactive Health
Two goals of a proactive healthcare initiative are keeping the population healthy and reducing expenses associated with “reactive healthcare.” Currently, 75 percent of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is on people with chronic conditions, according to the CDC. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are just a few chronic conditions that are also responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans every year.
Proactive, or preventative, care is one strategy to prevent these diseases, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs associated with these lifelong conditions. For this model to work, healthcare needs to move away from physicians “treating a disease,” or reactive care, and toward patients practicing “self-care,” or proactive care.
This can be realized with participation from health providers to encourage and patients to exercise, take prescribed medications and vitamins correctly, drink water, watch their weight, eat healthily, and schedule regular wellness exams with primary care physicians.
Using Predictive Models to Drive Success
Though physicians can urge their patients to practice self-care, the fact of the matter is: People will still develop chronic health conditions. This is where predictive models can come into play. These models can help identify patients who may be at risk for certain conditions in the future, and offer preventative practices that can delay or even reduce the likelihood of symptoms.
Predictive analytics is the process of deriving insights from patterns and correlations and data, and using that information to drive more strategic marketing campaigns. In order to gather this insight, health systems need a data hub and healthcare analytics platform in place that aggregates clinical, financial, and consumer data for each patient.
With access to rich patient data, healthcare marketers can create predictive models to identify optimal campaign targets with statistical precision. In one specific use case, healthcare marketers used predictive modeling with health, demographic, and lifestyle variables to identify patients who were likely to need hip replacement surgery in the future.
The goal of predictive modeling is to refine a list of target prospects to ensure highly relevant communication reaches the right audience.
Engage Patients with Targeted Communication
Once highly relevant patients have been identified through predictive modeling, marketers can then reach out to them with targeted communication. In the case of proactive health initiatives, patients of similar ages, demographics, and lifestyles will likely receive these campaigns. The messaging marketers use for this can then be highly personalized for each audience.
Ideally, this communication would help guide patients to make an appointment to see if they are at risk for a certain condition or need a procedure, or even share best practices for reducing risks or preparing for a procedure.
Engagement centers can help support marketers’ communication initiatives. When engagement center agents have access to a complete patient profile, they can improve the quality of interaction with each patient. A more personal and personalized form of communication than traditional marketing outreach (such as email), a phone conversation can help improve chances of success, whether that’s scheduling an appointment or requesting more information about a condition.
A proactive health initiative can help healthcare drive down costs across the board, but also those associated with chronic illnesses. With the right communication, health systems can reduce the likelihood of certain conditions or improve the quality of life for patients who already have these conditions.
On top of improving patient satisfaction and engagement, personalized communication can spur patients’ willingness to take care into their own hands and improve outcomes. Overall, proactive health and preventative care can help health practitioners achieve the triple aim: Improving the quality of patient experiences, improving the health of populations, and reducing the cost of care.