Oncology Care Model? Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)? Value-based care is upon us and whichever program you’re participating in, you need to have an effective patient engagement plan in place. The premise of value-based care is that more coordinated and connected patient care will improve outcomes and lower costs. For cancer patients, the high price of drugs can’t really be avoided, so a focus area is reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits. In order to do that, there are three critical components that can’t be underestimated as you craft your patient engagement strategy:
1. Patient Education. We survey patients on a regular basis and the comments always include a common theme – education is extremely important. Some patient comments include:
- “At the time of my diagnosis, I was stunned. I did not think of any questions.”
- “I can never remember all the information after leaving my appointment.”
- “I knew nothing about lymphoma prior to my diagnosis and education was the key – the materials helped so much to relieve that anxiety.“
Patients are asked to process an enormous amount of complicated information in a short amount of time during their clinic appointment. And the importance of an educated patient should not be overlooked. A recent study showed that cancer patients who viewed treatment specific digital education stayed on treatment longer and survived longer than patients who did not. Make sure you are giving patients diagnosis and treatment specific information that they review and revisit at their own pace. That information should also include how to manage likely side effects so patients know what to do to stay out of emergency room.
2. Patient-Reported Outcomes. Giving patients a way to let you know how they’re doing can be the difference between a symptom that can be self-managed as soon as it arises and a symptom that has grown too severe to be managed outside of a hospital. There is growing evidence that giving patients a way to report side effects results in better outcomes and improved survival. Navigating Cancer’s remote monitoring program, Health Tracker, also offers assistance with medication adherence and gives you the ability to watch high risk patient more closely. Patients often feel like they are bothering their care team and end up suffering in silence, allowing their condition to worsen and negatively impact their treatment. Give them an easy way to report how they’re doing.
3. Peer Support. We hear from patients on a regular basis that the Navigating Care community provided reassurance, helped with loneliness, and gave them somewhere to connect with others who were going through something similar to them. One patient remarked, “The support groups give you the sense and feeling you are not alone in dealing with your current situation.” There is also evidence that peer support can reduce barriers for patients. Having a community that understands what a patient is experiencing can be a source of hope and, importantly, practical information to stay on therapy. Patients with a support system are better equipped to stay engaged and deal with the challenges they face during therapy – it may be depression or something as simple as a transportation issue. The community has an important role to play – make sure your patients know how to get plugged into it.
If you want to succeed in value-based care, focus on giving patients the best chance to stick with their treatment, manage side effects and have the best experience possible. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about Navigating Care.