What is proactive care?
Proactive care is the ongoing patient-provider conversation and active monitoring of conditions to help prevent life-threatening emergencies. When care teams communicate regularly with at-risk patients—as well as each other—about conditions, diagnostics, and treatment protocols while encouraging preventive measures, they’re practicing proactive care.
Proactive care is personalized healthcare that makes problem prevention second nature for care teams and encourages patients to take more control of their own care and their sensitive data.
Patients who aren’t feeling ill at the moment may forget to check their vitals, take their medications or supplements, do their exercises, eat prescribed nutrient-rich foods, and schedule follow-up appointments. When clinicians on their care team regularly check in on them, however, patients are more likely to perceive their providers as trustworthy partners, and respond to friendly reminders or informative alerts. These relationships can last a lifetime.
If practiced correctly, proactive care can enable whole-person care by tracking lifestyle changes, encouraging self-monitoring and sensitive data sharing, as well as scheduling outpatient visits and follow-up lab tests. This trust-generating communication fosters more productive outpatient visits and fruitful wellness checks. It allows care teams to anticipate red flags and intervene to prevent critical issues. This personalized healthcare promotes lifetime patient retention.
How does proactive care differ from reactive care?
Unlike proactive care, reactive care addresses conditions after they’ve already developed into critical issues. Because it doesn’t prioritize problem prevention in the early stages of chronic disease, the reactive approach jump-starts costly, aggressive care plans after a patient’s condition has reached critical stages. The COVID pandemic has placed proactive care in the spotlight, inspiring the healthcare industry to pivot toward this personalized care model.
Every year, Americans spend about $3 trillion on healthcare—the majority of which goes into treating lifetime chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and mental health disorders (which often require additional charges at home, depending on how well patients tend to their own care). That’s almost twice as much as other developed nations.
Rather than pay for high-quality proactive care, our healthcare dollars have been funding reactive attempts to save lives—many of which can be avoided with proactive monitoring. Problem prevention healthcare forges stronger relationships and higher patient retention.
In a country with 92 million senior citizens, an emergency room visit costs each patient $2,100 on average—proactive care and problem prevention can cut the numbers of these visits. Large-scale, efficient preventive care requires clinicians to implement Care Management firmware effectively and humanely. Next-generation software in the hands of a skilled technical account manager streamlines workflows and enables care teams to focus on patients and outcomes rather than sensitive data gathering and processing.
Why implement proactive care?
Making an industry-wide shift to rigorous, consistent proactive care will help clinicians detect and address risk factors or dysfunctions across diverse populations earlier, and with greater agility to improve outcomes and save lives.
These proactive care goals may sound more expensive than those pursued in the reactive model, but clinicians are discovering that proactive care helps:
- Lower the cost of healthcare. It just requires rapid, agile innovation backed by policy and healthcare culture changes. Unlike reactive care, proactive care incorporates more than a set of reports and a data sheet.
- Reduce barriers to care. This preventive care model requires a 360° view of each patient and regular monitoring. Along with the traditional vital signs and symptoms, it also tracks economic, lifestyle, and social determinants of health—which often comprise a substantial percentage of a patient’s wellness. The pandemic placed these hidden disparities in the spotlight.
Now, proactive care integrates certain populations who lack access to clean air and water, nutritious food, medication, transportation, and education in an effort to close those gaps.
- Improve health outcomes. Proactive teams are agile problem-prevention experts. They interact with patients more regularly, building trust, and inspiring them to prevent medication-taking gaps and fill out data sheets more honestly. When applying virtualization, technical account managers implement consistent, holistic Care Management that improves health outcomes and patient retention. It also enables patients to participate in their own care.
How care teams can be proactive
Proactive care teams comprise professionals—from clinicians to technical account managers—with mutually supportive expertise and well-honed communication skills. Instead of treating sickness, they promote wellness across healthcare systems and specialties.
Because wellness requires boosting the functions of all integrated human systems—pulmonary, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, exocrine, digestive, nervous, skeletal, muscular, renal, and reproductive—these care teams must practice personalized whole-person care.
Here are five ways to integrate proactive care into your care team’s workflow and care plans:
1. Engage in ongoing, consistent communication
Proactive care teams don’t wait until a patient calls them to share sensitive data. They check in and request a datasheet, or at minimum, a text update. Next-generation firmware enables them to collect symptom descriptions or vital sign readings to identify warnings that may require a check-up. If patients are diagnosed or placed on the radar for a developing condition, they receive sensitive data and management tactics, so they can become care plan partners.
Interacting regularly with patients, observing behavioral changes and emotional instability while filling medications, and scheduling follow-ups help prevent critical issues from developing. Proactive care teams ask about every patient’s social determinants of health to ensure they will return to a safe recovery location, get proper nutrition and hydration, and have access to a phone—potentially forging habits that last a lifetime.
A next-generation proactive care firmware helps clinicians with call-handling to arrange meal and oxygen delivery, home health, or physical therapy when needed. Then, clinicians follow up to ensure these services are effective and the patient’s emotional state is stable enough to utilize them. In other words, they practice whole-person care.
This will require communication between team members, both when the patient is in the office and at home. People often confide in one team member the details of their condition and never repeat them again. An outpatient receptionist may be the only one who observes a patient’s dizzy spell or depressive behavior—details all team members must be alerted to. These valuable insights should be acknowledged and rewarded to encourage more effective whole-person wellness.
2. Create personalized health plans
Proactive care teams collaborate with each patient on a Personalized Health Plan which consists of:
- A comprehensive health evaluation—including a physical exam provided by the clinician with sensitive data like family history, diagnostics, biometrics, and health risks. Self-assessments illuminate perspectives on life purpose and sources of motivation for making behavioral changes, which will inform clinicians of wellness goals and challenges.
- A holistic therapeutic plan—a synthesis of clinician goals and patient goals, as well as agreed-upon disparities in the patient’s current state of health, desired state of health, and willingness to oversee their own care.
- A metric-tracking tool—patients and providers can use virtualization platforms to reflect on life, values, and the unique motivation that drives wellness so they can achieve health goals within an agreed-upon time frame.
- A care coordination platform—virtualization systems enable care teams to monitor each patient’s progress and provide support by reiterating or updating the PHP regularly and empowering the patient to become a fully vested member of the care team.
3. Embrace population-based care management
When partnerships are formed between private practitioners, federal health centers, community hospitals, county health departments, departments of social services, university medical centers, and care management teams, problem-prevention becomes easier.
Community-based care management teams can include nurses, social workers, community health workers, nutritionists, and health educators. Network partners including physicians, RNs, nurse practitioners, naturopaths, pharmacists, acupuncturists, therapists, social workers, and faith leaders work together to identify a community’s wellness needs. These needs can include home assessments, in-home health education, and dietary instruction, outpatient clinic appointment scheduling, medication pickup, and personalized therapy compliance.
Successful proactive care partners that implement virtualization software can safely share this sensitive data:
- Administrative data: demographics and identifiers, services leveraged, provider integrations, and audit trails.
- Care Management data: care team encounters, health risks and environmental assessments, socio-economic details, special needs, and care plan details.
- Clinical data: visit history, problems, procedures, missed appointments, prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements, allergies, and lab results.
- Patient communication data: call handling, messages, alerts, referrals, disclaimers, and new information notices shared by patients, as well as timestamps for each.
4. Cultivate a culture of optimism and respect
Mutual respect is the foundation of every effective care team. Proactive care makes your patients part of that team—so treat them as partners. Don’t patronize or enable behaviors that could cause poor health outcomes. Apply the sensitive data you collected about their lifestyle, habits, beliefs, and priorities to your daily communications, and support those initiatives.
Expand your definition of whole-person care to integrate holistic elements like spirituality, relationship dynamics, emotional health, intellectual curiosity, and personal development. When they bring you an article about the latest (or the most time-tested) treatment, don’t brush it off—show them you are just as curious and open-minded as they are. Then watch your patient retention skyrocket.
Team leaders should model these behaviors with an optimistic tone and a can-do attitude. They should demonstrate that they fully trust their care team and execute each patient’s PHP with an open mind and heart by sharing responsibilities and decision-making. When care team members are empowered to grow professionally, they may even surprise their managers with fresh problem prevention insights.
Post the whole-person proactive care principles on the bulletin board in your office and set the mood with an uplifting smile—it has a ripple effect across the organization. If you don’t let stress get the best of you, they won’t either. This attitude can enhance relationships for a lifetime.
5. Leverage proactive analytics
Virtualization can allow your technical account manager to efficiently store electronic health records (EHRs) with sensitive data like symptoms, vital signs, lab results, and health history. When combined with predictive analytics for problem prevention, they can generate a set of reports that offer early warning signs. This enables proactive care teams to assess a patient’s risk for critical issues, so they can intervene and prevent them.
Proactive analytics improve clinicians’ call handling and make workflows more efficient, letting them prioritize people who need the most care—ultimately saving lives. The proactive care model also benefits patients and their families because it provides more time to make decisions that could trigger a lifetime of repercussions.
Before the need for a Rapid Response Team arises, a proactive care team can monitor a patient and identify warning signs that may soon require treatment. Families can then research and consider their options before making an educated decision on their next steps.
If you can inspire your team to take all of these steps whole-heartedly and consistently, you’ll enjoy the benefits of proactive care.
Though patient management can be complex, the tools that improve relationships shouldn’t be. Discover how next-generation patient management solutions improve vital healthcare and social services delivery for unique populations in this case study.