New research has shed light on a longstanding healthcare system challenge that affects more than 1 in 3 Americans: Health outcomes are not improving for those with complex, chronic health concerns, even though they see their doctor frequently and take multiple medications.
The 2020 Chronic Care Action Index, commissioned by MOBE in partnership with YouGov, asked consumers and healthcare providers across the country what’s standing in their way when it comes to improved outcomes, and what factors would put them on the road to better health — and it’s not more face time with their doctors.
Those with chronic conditions already have a high volume of touchpoints with healthcare providers, and providers themselves are divided on whether the system is effectively configured for this population. Instead, what’s needed is increased lifestyle guidance across the care continuum to help manage the main barriers standing in their way: motivation, cost and time limitations.
Data reveal why deeper guidance beyond the doctor’s office is critical
Nearly three-quarters (73%) report seeing their doctor(s) multiple times a year, compared with 38% of people without any chronic conditions. Yet there is a disconnect between the discussions taking place during those appointments and the support people need in order to make health-related changes in their daily lives — especially for those with two or more chronic conditions:
When asked which topics they find easy to understand after discussing with their doctor, 53% didn’t feel additional steps they could take to improve their health (such as changing diet, exercise, and sleep habits) were clear to them.
Fewer than 1 in 3 healthcare professionals (30%) believe patients accurately follow the guidance they were given during their appointment a majority of the time.
Consumers say exercise (51%), eating healthier (40%) and getting more sleep (38%) are the health changes they most want to make, but find most difficult to achieve.
COVID-19 and other major factors are impacting consumers’ path to better health
A lack of clarity around additional steps to improve their health isn't consumers' only barrier to healthier outcomes. When asked about factors that might impact their ability to make positive health choices outside the doctor’s office, consumers were divided on whether motivation (29%), cost (32%), or access to healthy food options and local exercise spaces (19%) presented the biggest barrier to implementing their doctor’s recommendations.
These barriers are exacerbated for those with chronic care needs: 86% of doctors are concerned their patients with chronic conditions have not been getting the care they need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For people managing multiple chronic conditions, time is not the biggest barrier to better health – motivation is. 2 in 5 (38%) said that it’s hard to feel motivated to make the changes their doctor recommended — more than double those (16%) who said they don’t have enough time to exercise regularly or prepare healthy meals.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people with two or more chronic health concerns have experienced new obstacles to their health at rates nearly double the rest of the population — including increased stress or anxiety (46%), a lack of physical activity (40%), and not getting enough sleep (29%).
Yet most aren’t discussing it with their healthcare providers: 89% of respondents overall didn’t discuss talking to a therapist or mental health professional with their doctor.
When asked about topics they discuss most frequently with their patients, sleep (33%) and mental health (37%) were among the topics healthcare providers called out discussing the least.
People managing multiple chronic conditions are more likely to use technology to get the help they need; 51% of those with two or more chronic conditions have used telehealth services during the past year, while just 23% of those reporting no chronic conditions use telehealth.
“Data reveal that clearer health guidance, beyond medications and symptoms, is too often missing from people’s overall care — yet it is necessary to improve outcomes,” said Chris Cronin, CEO of MOBE. “For people with multiple chronic conditions, increased touchpoints with health professionals simply aren’t enough; they need personalized, one-to-one guidance that takes a whole-person approach to their lifestyle and health. Without that side of the comprehensive health equation, we’ll continue to see increased healthcare costs and a widening care gap.”
People with multiple chronic conditions can’t be categorized into a single age group, disease state, or health habit. However, MOBE has found that often, they are part of a “hidden population” that represents just 5% of employer-insured people nationally, but accounts for 20% of healthcare costs. By leveraging deep data science, MOBE identifies this small subset of people whose health needs are rising without improved health outcomes, and provides them with the comprehensive guidance they need to achieve better health — without any additional costs to participants, the health system, employers or insurers.
MOBE was founded in 2014 to address a significant unmet need in the health care system for people who are frequent users of health care services, but are not experiencing optimal health outcomes. MOBE partners with insurance companies and large employers to provide health solutions to their customers and employees at no additional cost to the health plan, the employer, or the individual. Combining data analytics, digital health and a novel one-to-one personalized approach, MOBE helps people live happier, healthier lives.
ABOUT THE “2020 CHRONIC CARE ACTION INDEX”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. For the consumer survey, total sample size was 2413 adults, and fieldwork was undertaken between 16th - 20th July 2020. For the healthcare professional (HCP) survey, total sample size was 202, and fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 20th July 2020. Both surveys were carried out online. The consumer survey figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).