A Matter of Time: How PCPs Can Drive Practices with Outsourced CDM
“There’s just not enough hours in the day.”
We’ve all not only heard this expression, we’ve likely used it when feeling overwhelmed by work. But for primary care physicians (PCPs), this is no exaggeration, it’s a proven challenge of daily life. According to a recent study, these doctors need at least 26.7 hours a day to deliver care to their patients.
Published in the July edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, “Revisiting the Time Needed to Provide Adult Primary Care” used 2020 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to create model panels of 2,500 patients, representative of the adult U.S. population. Based on guidelines from the Preventive Services Task Force, researchers were then able to calculate the time physicians need each day to deliver preventive, chronic disease and acute care, while processing documentation and managing their inbox.
The objective was to quantify the hours required of a PCP alone – then to measure how much time was needed by a PCP in a team-based care model. The results showed that up to 65% of primary care services can be conducted by other specialized medical staff, such as a dietician advising patients with diabetes on nutrition. This, in turn, enables physicians to focus on delivering more advanced care.
That said, the main takeaway of the study was not only assessing the extraordinary demands being placed on PCPs, but illustrating how team-based care can decrease this time by an equally impressive 9.3 hours each day.
One in four American adults, and over 65% of Medicare patients, have two or more chronic conditions, and it’s a population that increases by 1.5 million annually. With a greater volume of people aging into Medicare, a more personalized approach to care is needed. But this consumes further time, which doesn’t bode well when there are fewer PCPs and more clinicians leaving the field.
The scenario is overwhelming healthcare and harming the patient experience.
Chronic disease management (CDM) programs can help motivate patients to take more control of their health. However, it can be difficult for a PCP to determine if they have the patient numbers to support such a program. Even if they have resources available to hire staff, finding skilled people is difficult due to a labor shortage. Add in that serving chronically ill patients requires a lot of resources and it’s understandable that PCPs might be hesitant, or simply unable, to invest more in staff and technology.
PCPs can continue along the path they are on and the results will be limited at best, devastating at worst. Then again, they can build a sustainable program capable of delivering new services to more patients without additional risk. And this can be made possible by outsourcing CDM to a specialized vendor that’s purposely designed for the task.
Our healthcare system makes it virtually impossible for physicians to offer hands-on, individual care to every patient. That’s especially true of those patients with chronic disease. And health systems using outsourced CDM services will be in the best position to navigate the tricky healthcare waters ahead.
Engooden’s approach focuses on rising-risk patients – a significant but difficult to reach population. We identify them, then provide support to help PCPs change the trajectory of their health outcomes. This can both increase patient quality of life and keep them from entering a higher-risk group with costlier needs.
For instance, asking a patient to lose 20 pounds to avoid worsening their health can seem insurmountable to someone with multiple chronic conditions. But through greater understanding and consistent coaching, Engooden Health Care Navigators can re-engineer goals to make them more attainable. What begins with a walk to the end of the driveway can quickly turn into regular strolls through the neighborhood. Successfully completing incremental steps can make big life changes possible, such as dropping 20 pounds when you’re physically limited.
With outsourced CDM, a PCP lacking the bandwidth to provide this needed level of attention can still ensure that their patients get what they need through skilled navigators.
Another obstacle in healthcare is identifying the right resources and connecting patients to them. It’s not easy for PCPs to make time for this task, but it’s ideal for outsourced CDM practitioners that arrive with such knowledge. Our personnel continually reach out to food banks to assist patients in need, find lower-cost pharmacies and medications, recommend local providers and more.
Providing this attention to patients allows practices to build and gain trust – a recipe for better health outcomes and greater efficiency.
Time for a change
Being able to scale and deliver a higher caliber of care is a challenge for a PCP, but Engooden is geared for that purpose, too. We not only have developed purpose-built technology, we recruit, train and support care navigator teams tasked with serving each customer’s specific patient population. And over the years, we’ve developed a model that enables them to reach the right patients at the right moment and spend as much time as necessary.
Engooden doesn’t bill for services unless we speak with a patient and our platform is integrated with their EHR. This ensures PCPs can address any CDM issues during face-to-face follow ups. Further, we uniquely manage the entire program; there’s no new technology for busy PCPs to learn or more staff to hire. What’s more, actionable data insights from patient EHRs can be used to alert care navigators of the most clinically important details.
Yet, most instrumental is someone who is patient, empathetic and equipped to build trust with patients. Engooden’s technology-enhanced services enable navigators to do just that by increasing patient time and contact. This takes the burden off PCPs, who can do the same with acute patients requiring greater attention.
For PCPs and practices struggling under the demands of CDM, it’s time for a change. Consider outsourced CDM, it could very well be your path to the future.
With our compassionate, highly-skilled care navigators, we're establishing a new standard of care for patients living with chronic conditions. Are you ready to build your chronic disease management program? Click here to learn how Engooden's unique approach can support your practice and patients.