Blog Post

Population Health Advisor's responses to the top questions of early summer 2018

August 14, 2018

    Across the spring and early summer of 2018, our Population Health Advisor experts received and answered more than 240 questions on care delivery transformation. At the top of your peers' minds: How to address chronic diseases and the psychosocial needs that complicate their care.

    1. How can we strengthen our diabetes management program?

    Shifting demographics, increasing disease prevalence, and evolving reimbursement tied to chronic care outcomes pressure providers to approach diabetes management with a renewed focus. Our experts have identified five areas in which diabetes management programs often fall short and how to solve for such shortfalls.

    In addition to disease-specific solutions, we've seen providers centralize efforts across chronic conditions to reduce duplication of resources and offer more holistic care to patients with multiple comorbidities.

    A centralized model doesn't mean you are beholden to a one-size-fits-all approach. Your organization should provide foundational elements of chronic disease management (e.g. patient education, medication support) to all patients, then tailor interventions to patients' acuity levels and degrees of activation to drive scalable ROI.

    2. How can we support patients concerned about the stigma of behavioral health care?

    According to a 2015 survey, 43.4 million adults (17.9%) in the United States reported having a mental illness. At times, the biggest obstacle to behavioral health treatment is the associated stigma. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the leading causes of people avoiding behavioral health treatment is the fear of prejudice or discrimination. As a result, patients may avoid seeking treatment—regardless of need—leading to adverse health outcomes.

    We've see health systems improve access and facilitate treatment by screening all patients in the primary care setting for behavioral health services and offering primary care-based and virtual services for those in need.

    Primary care-based services: The primary care setting offers a unique opportunity to improve patient adherence to behavioral health services because it is a major access point for patients. Primary care providers are often the first to encounter and identify a behavioral health need and also the provider of choice for patients in need.

    Virtual services: An increasing number of providers and health plans partner with third-party vendors to provide virtual peer and self-management support, ensuring constant and discreet behavioral health support. For example, health systems (e.g., Partners HealthCare, Atrium Health), insurers, and community providers across the country partner with myStrength, a mobile and web-based behavioral health self-care platform. It offers education, coping skill development, and self-expression tools for patients with behavioral health needs (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance abuse). myStrength users experienced a 55% decrease in depression scores and a significantly higher symptom reduction compared with patients without myStrength access. In Missouri, a state-wide claims analysis demonstrated $382 per Medicaid beneficiary per year savings among users compared with non-users.

    The Expert Center: Have a question you'd like our population health experts to weigh in on? Email your advisor to connect with us and hundreds of other research through The Expert Center!

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