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The Trillion(s) Dollar Question: Can We Stop the Rise of Chronic Conditions?

Yes, we can stop the rise of chronic health conditions in America. And while it's troubling to healthcare providers facing this challenge that 7 in 10 Americans don't recognize how common chronic diseases are, even more disturbing to those footing the bill is the rising cost of treating these often-preventable diseases.

Healthcare spending in the U.S. hit $3.5 trillion in 2017, and it's expected to continue growing at an average rate of 5.5% a year through 2025. If you're trying to wrap your head around this figure, consider that the total market values of Google, Apple and Microsoft combined is still less than what we spend every year on healthcare in the U.S.

Top Market Values vs. Annual Healthcare Spend

Why are we spending so much? To begin with, 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease, and 4 in 10 suffer from two or more chronic diseases. Take a look at the leading causes of death and disability: heart disease and cancer top the list, with the former costing the country about $200 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity and the latter expected to reach $174 billion in costs by 2020. These conditions, along with diabetes, asthma, mental health illness and arthritis combine to drive the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare costs.

All this to say: unmanaged chronic conditions are a major drag to both employee health and quality of life and an employer’s bottom line. If more than half of your workforce is suffering from a chronic disease, and your current health benefits package doesn’t tackle them directly, you’re unnecessarily sacrificing money and employee well-being.

What to Do About It

An onsite health clinic and wellness center is a great start to tackling the problem of condition management. But if your onsite vendor does not have specific programs in place to meet the needs of a workforce with chronic conditions, you’ll find that those conditions won’t be managed in a way that makes financial (or healthy) sense.

Healthstat overcomes obstacles to effective condition management by integrating claims data, health assessment and biometric data, referral and testing data, and patient encounter information directly into clinician workflow. This allows providers a complete picture of a patient’s care plan - including other providers that have been seen - to better track outcomes and adherence to care plans.

In short, condition management is inseparable from what Healthstat does on a daily basis, and it’s built into the onsite clinic cost structure. Healthstat clinicians are trained to focus on the chronic diseases that account for the vast majority of healthcare spend in the U.S. This includes common conditions like:

  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High cholesterol/triglycerides (Hyperlipidemia)
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Depression

Encouraging Adherence at Every Step

According to the CDC, 50% of patients in the US stop taking their medications within one year of being prescribed. What’s more, when people with chronic conditions don’t stick to their care plans, hospital admission rates increase by up to 69%. These staggering numbers are one component of the issue of non-adherence that plagues condition management.

A healthcare plan that doesn’t promote adherence to care plans by making it as easy as possible for patients is doomed to see potentially encouraging short-term benefits fall to the wayside. Condition management is only managed when long-term treatment is considered.

Encouraging Adherence at Every Step

The right onsite clinic vendor will have tools in place to promote care plan adherence while making it easy for patients to improve their health in meaningful ways. Healthstat’s electronic medical records system is customized to personalize the interactions our clinicians have with your employees. Together, the individual and their provider can develop care plans that fit into each patient’s real life and lower the barriers that make it difficult to stay with a plan over the long term.

In addition, our predictive modeling toolset enables our clinicians to identify and remedy gaps in care. Each individual has their own unique care plan that factors in both lifestyle habits and their readiness to make the changes that will lead to lasting improvement.

A Holistic Approach to Condition Management

Long-lasting health – and meaningful health improvements – require a team to be successful. When it comes to an onsite clinic program, the most obvious team consists of a patient and their diagnosing and treating clinician. But what if you could add even more experts to the line-up, to ensure that a patient’s care journey is covered by support and expert advice every step of the way?

All Healthstat’s condition management programs consist of clinical, educational, and coaching components, and they include a global approach to behavioral modification (the cornerstone of effective condition management).

Wondering how an onsite clinician is supposed to wear all hats at once? While our clinicians are well-trained to serve their patients in every capacity, Healthstat also offers dedicated Health & Wellness Coaches and Disease Management Specialists to round out an employee’s care team. These specialists can implement and manage programs for chronic conditions that are tailored to the needs of a specific employee population. This means that each patient can rely on a suite of providers and health experts that will guide them along their health journey for years to come.

A Manufacturing Case Study

To illustrate the benefits of managing chronic conditions, let’s look at one of Healthstat’s clients – a manufacturing facility in rural North Carolina that enjoys global product reach in a highly competitive market. Keeping pace with production schedules and meeting delivery deadlines is a high priority for this employer. As with most U.S. companies, however, their employee base was battling a significant number of chronic conditions that impacted productivity, resulted in costly medical bills, and lowered company morale. The employer was looking for a comprehensive program that would address the full scope of condition management.

With a Healthstat partnership, their 2018 annual savings included:

Chronic Condition Manufacturing Case Study

In the table above, a diagnosed patient is one who had a clinic visit that was documented with a diagnosis code specific to the chronic condition named. Managed is defined as having three or more visits in the Healthstat clinic during the year.

The first step toward lowering America’s annual health bill of $3.5 trillion dollars is to begin addressing its number one cost driver: chronic conditions. If you’re looking for a comprehensive condition management program that encourages long-term adherence, promotes overall well-being, and reduces claims costs year-over-year, consider partnering with Healthstat today.

What could your year-end savings look like?

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