Contributor: Opportunities for Provider Engagement, Intervention, and Coordination Highlighted in CVS Health Study

As providers strive to deliver seamless, collaborative, and deeply engaging care, advances focused on treating the whole health of a person, wherever they are in their care journey, will be necessary as the health care system continues to evolve to meet the needs of patients and providers alike.

Providers who have sufficient time to spend with patients and utilize clear communication can drive effective engagement and generate successful patient outcomes, according to CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study (HCIS).

Yet, having enough time with patients is still a challenge for many providers as they struggle with burdensome administrative processes and staffing shortages. As a result, 36% of providers surveyed say they are unsatisfied with the amount of time spent with their patients. This number skyrockets for those providers treating patients with complex conditions, with 88% wishing they had more time.

Results also show that providers and consumers alike want deeper relationships, with 44% of providers noting the importance of talking to patients in a way they can easily understand.

Against this backdrop, health care delivery continues to rapidly evolve, with virtual and digital capabilities becoming more convenient and widely adopted. People have more options in how they access their care, whether it be virtually, in person, or a combination of both. The past year has seen people become increasingly comfortable with virtual care, with 59% of consumers surveyed saying that it was important to their health that they have access to virtual and telehealth services.

Likewise, providers recognize that increasing convenience makes people more likely to seek medical care. HCIS results show that 53% of providers who offer virtual visits say these services have increased patient visits, with 93% of these providers finding patients more likely to make appointments and 88% finding patients more likely to keep appointments. What’s more, over half of these providers (55%) also claim that virtual visits have improved their ability to spend adequate time with patients.

Focusing on Communication Across the Care Continuum

With so much innovation in the digital and virtual space, it’s never been more vital to connect these capabilities to the in-person, physical network of providers, as well as to the multitude of digital health apps available today. With limited time for provider-patient interactions, patients say they do not want to spend time during an office visit reiterating the same concerns they expressed during a virtual call the week prior.

Further, consumers are engaging in deeper conversations about their social, emotional, and mental health concerns with their providers. For example, 81% of consumers say it’s important that their primary care provider (PCP) knows about both their overall happiness and stress levels, while 83% want their PCP to be aware of lifestyle habits that could impact their health.

As consumers increasingly desire holistic health care, we must focus on more efficient and seamless ways to communicate and capture patient information for all providers of a coordinated, physician-led care team.

Providers Recognize Next-Generation Care Demands Whole-Person Care Teams

The future of health care clearly must focus on physical, mental, and emotional health, a modality that requires a physician-led care team. Most PCPs (68%) say that coordinating with other providers improves their ability to achieve desired patient outcomes.

Patients also recognize care coordination drives better experiences and outcomes, with 83% of consumers indicating that coordination among providers is important to their health.

With a growing focus on holistic health, it’s not surprising that 57% of providers say mental health providers are very helpful resources for patients. In fact, 48% of providers say they “always” or “often” refer patients to a mental health professional to help patients with their health goals.

Virtual Services Often a Preferred Access Method for Mental Health Care

As stigma and other issues can cause patients to be apprehensive about accessing mental health services, virtual visits can be a welcome option. HCIS study results found that 55% of consumers said the availability of virtual mental health services would make them more likely to seek this kind of help.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 53 million people in the United States are living with a mental health issue, signaling the significant need for increased access to high-quality mental health care. For patients who have both physical and mental health conditions, expenses related to their physical condition are 40% higher than someone who does not have a mental health condition.

With pressures and stresses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic making mental health care needs more urgent, access to both in-person/virtual counseling and therapy services will be important.

Pharmacists Maintain Role as Key Touchpoint

Pharmacists played a crucial role in helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, providing accessible care and ensuring access to vaccines and treatments. The impact of that work on trust is easy to see, with 94% of consumers reporting that their level of trust for pharmacists has either increased or stayed the same. Additionally, 90% of consumers said that prescription information/education and support from their pharmacist was “very” or “somewhat” important.

Providers also noted the importance of patient-focused digital and verbal interventions and touchpoints, with 94% saying that interventions such as pharmacist mentions, text reminders, and phone follow-ups help patients successfully follow their care plans.

Pharmacists can help drive medication adherence, close gaps in care, and recommend more cost-effective drug therapies, as well as provide guidance on preventive care, treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, and management of chronic conditions. In fact, 84% of providers attest that pharmacists help patients with complex conditions and/or specialty medication needs adhere to their health plan.

Driving Effective Engagements and Outcomes

As providers strive to deliver seamless, collaborative, and deeply engaging care, we will continue to see advances focused on treating the whole health of a person, wherever they are in their care journey.

The pandemic’s impact on health care writ large—with a renewed focus on integrating physical, virtual, and in-home care; coordinating physician-led care teams across disciplines; and providing patients with access to better manage their own and their loved one’s health—will continue to evolve to meet the needs of patients and providers alike.

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