Chronic conditions are common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 117 million Americans have at least one chronic condition, and two in ten adults have two or more. From diabetes and asthma to cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s, chronic disease is a leading contributor to healthcare costs. With effective chronic care management, however, it’s possible to both reduce costs and support better quality of life for people living with chronic illness.
With more family caregivers playing an active role in chronic care management for their loved ones, tools like WellBe® from HandsFree Health provide vital support. This smart healthcare companion provides busy caregivers with peace of mind that their loved ones are safe—even when they can’t be there—by helping patients stay on track with care management plans.
What Does Chronic Care Management Mean?
Staying healthy and reducing complications from a chronic condition typically requires a care plan that includes medication, monitoring, and ongoing communications with a healthcare provider. Depending on the specific disease, additional interventions—such as exercise—may also be necessary. For patients with multiple chronic conditions, a comprehensive care plan is considered a vital part of primary care, as it’s proven to improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Understanding Medicare’s Chronic Care Management Benefits
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers chronic care management (CCM) services for Medicare Part B beneficiaries who have multiple chronic conditions, and agree to be part of the program. Although office visits to the doctor are part of an overall care plan for chronic disease, CCM services are primarily for those that aren’t provided face-to-face. These are usually telephone and email consultations and check-ins designed to provide support and help patients stay on track with their plan.
Electronic health records (EHRs)are a cornerstone of effective chronic care management. EHRs contain information about the patient’s conditions, medical history, medications, and providers. Providers use these records to help identify patients who qualify for CCM and coordinate care.
What is the Purpose of Chronic Care Management?
At its heart, CCM is designed to reduce healthcare costs. Chronic diseases account for 84% of all healthcare spending in the United States, and 94% of all Medicare spending. Research shows that for those patients who qualify for chronic care management, costs do go down.
This is believed to be primarily due to decreased spending on hospitalizations and skilled nursing care. In short, when chronic conditions are better managed, it’s less likely patients will require hospitalization and the costs for their care decrease.
However, effective chronic care management does more than keep healthcare spending in check. By coordinating care across providers and establishing treatment goals, it improves outcomes as well. Patients are given additional support to engage with their own healthcare and follow the plan—which in turn—improves their quality of life. Taking medication consistently and on time, self-monitoring for symptoms, and following any other provider advice, such as getting exercise and adequate sleep, can help manage or reduce symptoms.
Does Medicare Pay for Chronic Care Management?
Medicare Part B does cover the cost of chronic care management and care coordination for some beneficiaries. Only those people who have two or more serious conditions that aren’t expected to improve within 12 months are eligible for Medicare coverage.
WellBe Makes it Simple to Stay on Track with Chronic Care Management Plans
Under Medicare rules, patients with multiple chronic illnesses who qualify for CCM services receive:
- A personalized care plan as documents in the electronic health record
- 24/7 access to urgent care
- 20 minutes of non-face-to-face CCM services from a qualified health professional
- Care coordination among providers and during care transitions (e.g., from hospital to inpatient rehabilitation to home)
Although these services support better outcomes, day-to-day care management still falls to the individual patient and caregiver. That’s where tools like WellBe come in.
WellBe’s innovative technology helps patients remain in control of their health with medication and appointment reminders—and, keeps caregivers in the know with automatic alerts for key information like:
- Missed medication doses
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Abnormal blood sugar readings
- Upcoming or missed doctor’s appointments
For seniors who wish to age in place and maintain their independence as long as possible, WellBe helps them stay in control of their lives and their health.
Using WellBe’s HIPAA-compliant Virtual Assistant app, you can create a completely customized experience that aligns with your loved one’s care plan. Enter their medical history, health insurance information, and physician details, as well as information about medications, appointments, and even personal tasks. The app automatically sends voice reminders, giving you peace of mind and keeping your loved ones on track with their care.
A chronic care management plan gives patients a plan for living as healthy as possible, even with a serious disease. WellBe helps put that plan into action, reducing caregiver stress and helping stop complications before they start. Shop the WellBe collection of smart devices, and start managing your loved one’s health from the leader in voice-assisted healthcare technology.