What Is the Continuum of Care and How Can Technology Help?

Healthcare means a lifetime of attentive care, wellness, prevention, and treatment. And more people than ever need reliable, continuous resources for their medical needs.

According to the Primary Care Development Corporation, “An estimated 133 million Americans had one or more chronic conditions in 2005. By 2030, the number is projected to increase to 171 million.” The need for chronic care is only increasing as our population ages.

When a patient comes to you for their chronic condition, they’re trusting you with their entire healthcare journey. But that journey evolves, and they’re counting on you to keep up with an effective care plan.

Creating this continuum of care takes innovation. Technology not only makes patient care easier, but improves it with personalization, convenience, and intuitiveness that keeps them engaged for a lifetime of health and wellness. Here’s a deep dive into what the continuum of care is and how technology is helping teams provide better care.

What is the continuum of care?

To understand how technology helps the continuum of care, we need to understand what the continuum of care is. At its core, the continuum of care is simply a journey of effective medical treatment, resources, and communication.

Planning and personalization are the keys to a continuum of care. A patient comes to you to treat their chronic condition. You’ll need to understand them and plan a lifetime of potential needs from a spectrum of healthcare areas and specialities.

As PCDC puts it, “The continuum of care describes how healthcare providers follow a patient from preventive care through medical incidents, rehabilitation, and maintenance.” It addresses immediate needs while focusing on the future, with long-term, whole-body care at the forefront to avoid reactive care and embrace preventative wellness.

Without a continuum of care, you miss out on ways to manage your patient’s care, and the patient loses opportunities to better address their condition — especially for those with a chronic condition and consistent care needs.

How is technology supporting a better continuum of care?

Technology improves communication and diagnosis, helps track and monitor patients, and even forecasts potential issues or hurdles. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and other automations, you create a long-term patient with a personalized continuum of care.

Patients want physicians who take their personal issues, patterns, and lifestyle into consideration when talking about treatment plans. They also need communication with their healthcare providers. That means their healthcare team needs to be consistent with one another and stay in the loop with the patient.

Technology is the catalyst for an effective patient journey. Here’s how it supports a better continuum of care.

Increased efficiency

Healthcare is a team-based endeavor. Physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, and more all are working towards the same goal — their patients’ health. But when the process isn’t effective, integrated, or efficient, patients not only suffer from lower quality care overall, but also from frustrating complications and expenses that can prevent them from getting the treatment they need.

Improving communication prevents issues like misdiagnosis and care overlap. A patient with an efficient team is well cared for.

Coordination lays out the patient care continuum. But how do you create such a well-oiled journey? Patient Management software takes in information and not only coordinates how the patient receives their care, but communicates it with their healthcare team and even makes course corrections. Welkin gathers assessments, collects signed paperwork, offers online bill pay, delivers quick lab results to keep patients in their continuum of care for life.

Improved diagnostics

Technology keeps regular care needs in check, keeping them on track with hassle-free care. But the care continuum isn’t just focused on maintenance — it’s about prevention.

The right technology can keep a patient profile to anticipate solutions that will help them towards their best health. It can set automated follow-ups, schedule scoring assessments, analyze results, and track outcomes.

What about when your patient is on their own? In this case, you bring the continuum of care into their daily life. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) brings tests and even diagnostic capabilities to the patient, educating them and allowing for more prep work before their appointments. This sort of time reduction improves diagnostics and supports a continuum of care.

Take the Apple Watch, for example. It’s able to track potential falls, letting users make an emergency call easily, and makes the call automatically if there’s no response for one minute. Care teams will get real-time diagnostics for post-op patients without keeping them for monitoring. Wearable devices keep up-to-date vitals and can even preemptively suggest appointment scheduling. The possibilities are growing every day.

Enabling remote care

The world has embraced online care. The continuum of care thrives when patients are comfortable and can get the most convenient options. When they get a remote telehealth visit, you can ensure their care plan is up-to-date and they get the care they need as soon as possible.

And, if a second opinion is needed, remote care even allows them to talk with any doctor anywhere in the world. This works especially well for those with a chronic illness who are likely unable to travel.

Advancing the way continuum of care is done

Creating a continuum of care, especially for patients with a chronic illness, takes consistency, monitoring, and prevention. Keeping information in one place keeps care efficient for the patient and their providers. At-home care technology not only protects from health emergencies, but diagnoses and prevents them as well. And keeping your patients comfortable, especially with remote care, keeps them consistent.

Tracking every step of the care continuum takes work, but a platform like Welkin helps you better manage it. With Welkin’s platform, you’re able to build each of your patients’ personalized care continuums, increase compliance, and improve outcomes overall.

Welkin is used primarily for long-term Care Management. It cuts out administrative hassles for care teams, increases the quality of care for patients, and simplifies steps for both parties. See how Welkin can support patient-centered Care Management.

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