People with chronic illnesses shouldn’t have to face their health needs alone. And thanks to support from family members or close friends, many don’t have to. Family caregivers have long been recognized as essential to the health and wellbeing of people with severe or advanced illnesses, and research shows that even those who don’t need daily care in the home benefit from support.
According to a study from Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, more than 60% of adults with diabetes or heart failure have the support of a family member or friend as they manage their illness. These people accompany their loved ones to doctors’ appointments, coordinate appointments with multiple providers, help them remember to take medication, assist with dietary changes, and provide crucial emotional support.
In many cases, patients will designate specific family members and friends to access their health information so that they can discuss care options and decisions. By incorporating these individuals into the care plan and working with them, care providers can help them provide better care at home. To best help their loved ones, family supporters and caregivers need to understand the care plan, have access to informational resources, and learn about the specific needs of the person they care for.
As part of the ongoing care plan for patients with chronic illness, Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM) program supports family caregivers in several ways:
1. Organized Care Plan Information
By providing a central location for medical records and care recommendations, CCM makes it easy for family caregivers to stay informed. Using the integrated technology platform, patients and their supporters can access records of past appointments and prescriptions. The care plan also documents each doctor and specialist the patient has visited, helping to coordinate care among multiple providers.
With this information, family caregivers can assist their loved ones as they navigate the complicated healthcare landscape and help them stick to the care plan. This support is so important to chronically ill patients that researchers have found it can reduce hospital readmissions by 25%.
2. Greater Access to Practice
Even with the patient’s records available through the technology portal, there are still times a caregiver will need to ask a question or talk with someone about a healthcare task. With HealthXL’s CCM program, patients and caregivers have regular access to a personal HealthXL Care Coordinator who can help them with these needs. The Care Coordinator can assist with making appointments, getting medication refills, and answering questions related to the care plan.
3. Peace of Mind
It’s never easy to face a chronic illness, but CCM gives caregivers the resources they need to support their loved ones with quality care at home. The CCM program provides:
- 24/7 access to the care plan any time, anywhere
- A HealthXL Care Coordinator trained to listen for changes in patient health
- Enhanced care coordination while keeping the provider at the center of care
These resources help integrate the family caregiver into the overall care plan and make it easier to stay abreast of new or complicated information.
Managing a chronic illness can sometimes involve complex treatments such as multiple medications, wound care, specialized equipment, and multiple specialists. CCM helps reduce that complexity and improves overall outcomes for patients as they make day-to-day decisions that affect their health. In addition, patients with strong support from family and friends tend to follow their care plans more closely and are more likely to stick with healthy lifestyle changes. By keeping caregivers up to date on care plan recommendations, CCM gives them the ability to provide a higher quality of informal care for their loved ones.
If you’re interested in providing additional support for your Medicare patients and their caregivers at home, consider starting a CCM program. HealthXL makes it easy to start a CCM program without extra cost or burden to your internal staff. Talk to us to today to learn more.