Healthcare IT Today: Preventive Medicine is the Key to Value-Based Care

Preventive Medicine is the Key to Value-Based Care

By Dr. Ed Cladera, Medical Director at AristaMD

We’re amid a massive provider shortage, and it’s only getting worse. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is on track to face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. As a result of being unable to access care, patients are pushing off routine health services. Neglected care comes with more complications down the line.

Studies have shown that preventative care decreases the incidence of disease and patient mortality, resulting in better care outcomes. Preventive medicine proactively identifies and treats acute ailments before they develop into severe or chronic conditions. By addressing health problems before they require emergency intervention, both patients and the health system save money and see better outcomes.

Value-based care makes care more affordable for patients while rewarding clinicians for improved care, and the industry recognizes the value. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expanded Medicare Advantage through 2023 to make the shift, and digital health tools are crucial for support.

There’s a reason for the famous saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To support this initiative, preventative medicine must be prioritized by all key stakeholders in the health care system.

Preventative Care Starts with Easy Access

Regardless of geographical location, accessing health care can be challenging, but patients in rural areas experience a particular disadvantage. It’s not feasible to expect a patient to drive over an hour to a provider, especially if this means finding transportation, childcare, and requesting time off work. Additionally, rural patients often receive coverage from Medicare and Medicaid, limiting the providers they can access from an affordability standpoint.

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Patient Engagement Solutions

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Value-based care relies on good patient engagement. That means delivering care with cultural competency, understanding the social factors influencing patient care access and engagement, offering sufficient self-care education, and being compassionate to patients with all needs.

Patient engagement drives better outcomes and customized care. When patients engage in care decisions, they understand their role in the care team and their health, increasing accountability.

In addition, patients want more information about how to care for themselves. A survey by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs indicated that more than 70% of patients would like to discuss self-care with their providers. This is a challenge for PCPs, who spend an average of 15 minutes with each patient.

To fill this gap, primary care practices use technology to help keep patients engaged. Software that automatically notifies the patient when a referral is sent can increase the likelihood that a patient will make an appointment with a specialist. Confirmation that the specialist is the patient’s insurance network, appointment reminders and online patient forms also improve patient engagement. More importantly, access to the specialist treatment plan is critical to keeping patients educated on how to care for themselves in a way that will prevent symptom escalation and manage chronic conditions.