According to the CDC, 6 in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic condition – and almost 70 percent of those patients have more than one chronic condition.
While chronic disease treatment is widely discussed in the healthcare industry, multiple condition management – and how to effectively treat multiple conditions at once – is a similarly critical topic that is less broadly addressed. In this post we aim to shed light on how treatment for patients living with multiple chronic conditions is different than those managing one and the key components to consider when curating a treatment plan for multiple chronic diseases.
Conditions are considered chronic when they last more than one year, limit one’s daily activity, or will not fix themselves over time. These conditions range from major life-threatening diseases, like heart disease or cancer, to diseases that are non-life-threatening, like acid reflux or arthritis. Behavioral health conditions, like depression and addiction disorders, are also common among those with chronic disease and should be accounted for in a well-rounded, holistic treatment plan.
Treating Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions
Although much of the national healthcare conversation centers on treating chronic disease, treating multiple chronic conditions creates additional complexity that needs to be addressed. While considering all factors of a patient’s health – lifestyle, genetics, environment and medical care – when creating a plan, providers must also take additional chronic conditions into account.
When patients have multiple chronic conditions, the complexity of diagnosing and treating these conditions increases. Multiple chronic conditions result in many moving pieces and touch points, including multiple providers, directions, medications, etc., while also reviewing and taking into account medical history, symptoms, and goals.
Our clinical health coaches work with high-risk, hard-to-treat patients managing multiple chronic conditions. In fact, most patients who are prescribed inHealth are managing two or more conditions. Our clinical health coaches provide an example template for how providers can approach and develop a treatment plan for high-risk patients managing multiple chronic conditions:
- Review the patient’s list of providers. Patients with multiple chronic conditions usually have a care team that include several providers. In the last decade or so, there has been an uptick in providers choosing subspecialties. For context, in 2015, 88 percent of internal medicine residents entered a medical subspecialty, according to a study conducted by The American Journal of Medicine. With a greater chance for providers specializing in one condition, the chances of a patient’s care team including multiple providers is high, which leads to more than one treatment plan.
- Evaluate all treatment plans together before making decisions. With vital pieces of information coming from multiple sources, our clinical health coaches act as the “synthesizer” and ensure these plans are balanced and work well together. This step is necessary as plans may conflict with one another. For example, a patient may have acid reflux, but also struggle with obesity. While eating specific vegetables may help this patient lose weight and tackle their obesity, it may be simultaneously aggravating their acid reflux, which is not healthy for the patient. By keeping the patient’s acid reflux in mind for their obesity plan, providers can suggest alternatives that will allow the patient to lose weight and avoid acid reflux.
- Create health goals that are not condition specific. If the focus of a patient’s treatment plan is on the wholeness of the person, positive outcomes and improvements on their overall health is likely to affect multiple conditions, rather than just one.
- Get patient buy-in. Established health goals should also reflect the patient’s priorities, which will help them comply with treatment. Patient compliance is essential for successful, life-long health outcomes. The patient must be ready to put their health in their own hands, and by prioritizing their goals, patient compliance increases.
How inHealth Lifestyle Therapeutics Helps Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions
For patients with multiple chronic conditions to achieve and sustain lifelong health goals, it takes a village. At inHealth, our clinical health coaches work with the patient’s entire care team and take all conditions into consideration when putting together a treatment plan. Because of this approach, our clinical health coaches serve to empower the patient and keep their priorities top of mind, leading to higher compliance in the program.
To summarize, there are many benefits of working with inHealth’s clinical health coaches. Our providers:
- Take a holistic approach to treatment
- Act as the liaison to primary care providers
- Have an in-depth view into the patient’s environment and medication history, allowing for better connections and stronger outcomes
- Strive to limit and work through mixed messages by listening and communicating regularly with a patient’s care team – family included
- Take acute care conditions into account while treating chronic conditions
- Prioritize the patient’s health goals which increases compliance
If you are interested in learning more about how inHealth Lifestyle Therapeutics could help you and your patients, learn more by clicking the link below.