Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) accounts for about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US. About 92.1 million Americans are currently living with some form of CVD or the after-effects of strokes, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
This prompted the AHA to create a 2020 Impact Goal: to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by the year 2020.
The AHA is gauging the cardiovascular health of the nation by tracking seven key health factors and behaviors that increase risks for heart disease and stroke. They call these health factors “Life’s Simple 7”: not smoking, physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, and control of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
Achieving an aim such as the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goal requires patient engagement with plenty of communication focused on those seven key health factors. Unfortunately, healthcare systems are sometimes hesitant to try new avenues for patient engagement due to persistent medical myths.
Read on for four of the top myths about engaging patients with cardiovascular disease and the facts that debunk them.
Myth #1: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and other privacy regulations don’t allow open communications with patients and their families.
The Facts: HIPAA does require health care organizations to provide protections for patient information, but HIPAA also allows for disclosing information that is necessary in order to deliver quality health care to patients.
The following modes of patient engagement are allowed under HIPAA regulations:
- Discussion with a patient’s family and/or friends. Sharing information is allowed if the patient agrees with the exchange of information between the physician and an individual who is directly involved in the patient’s care, according to HHS, Office of Civil Rights, Safeguards.
- Medical records. A patient and his or her health representative can obtain copies of their health information or their medical record, according to HHS, Office of Civil Rights, your health information privacy rights.
- Emails and phone calls. If a patient approves, HIPAA allows healthcare providers to communicate with patients via email and phone, as well as face to face or in writing. According to HHS, Office of Civil Rights, sharing health information with family members and friends.
Myth #2: Only Millennials will use technology to communicate with their physicians.
The Facts: It’s a common misconception that older people don’t use technology. In fact, according to an athenaResearch study on patient portal systems, “patients in their 60s have a reasonable propensity to use portals—in fact, they do so at nearly the same rate as patients in their 40s...even 70-somethings are only about a third less likely than younger adults to have portal accounts. And, in fact, these patients sign in more often than others—even into their 70s, many patients regularly check their medical records, communicate with providers, and request prescription refills.”
If organizations tailor their communication strategies to meet the needs of older adults — for example, registering patients for the portal in person with face-to-face contact — organizations may be pleasantly surprised by the interest older patients have in electronic communications.
A study by NCBI concluded that older adults simply require an initial in-person introduction to digital communication that highlights relevant benefits and addresses their particular needs and concerns.
In an initiative to reduce 30-day hospital readmissions for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) at a large health system, PatientBond engaged patients post-discharge with a consistent set of communications using email, text messages and Interactive voice response. At the end of a five month pilot, CHF readmissions were reduced over 90 percent. Moreover, in a survey from the health system sent to these patients after the program, 94 percent indicated they liked the digital communications and found them helpful. Tellingly, these patients were mostly over age 65.
Myth #3: There is no measurable payoff in engaging patients.
The Facts, according to the AHA: Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke are estimated to total more than $316 billion. That includes both health expenditures and lost productivity.
Conversely, better cardiovascular health is associated with better cognitive performance and cognitive function, lower prevalence and incidence of depressive symptoms and lower loss of physical functional status.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), patients’ psychological factors play a major part in the impact, course and treatment of CVD. Patients’ emotions and cognitions feed into their responses to their illness and its treatments and can, for example, affect the likelihood of attendance at cardiac rehabilitation programs.
NCBI notes that self management and self efficacy need to be encouraged. Depression and anxiety are common after myocardial infarction and can influence outcome. A patient’s mood state should be assessed routinely and regularly.
How to Better Engage Patients with Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths per year in 2013, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. Tailored communication is essential to changing these statistics.
Healthcare professionals who actively seek to engage patients and their families are leading the way in mutually-beneficial partnerships.
PatientBond uses a unique psychographic segmentation model to measure people’s attitudes, values, lifestyles and personalities, which are the keys to understanding healthcare consumers’ motivations. All messaging via digital communications is personalized to each patient according to his or her psychographic profile.
Segmenting people by their unique characteristics allows healthcare organizations to target and deliver communications that resonate more effectively and increase the likelihood of behavior change.
For more information about how PatientBond’s cloud-based platform can fill the gap between doctor-patient communications, click here.