Are patients with chronic conditions the unpaid interns of healthcare?

Healthcare systems across the world are facing the biggest challenges in their existence. In the United States, seventy-five percent of healthcare spending is driven by patients with chronic conditions. The stark rise of patients managing chronic, long term conditions places a significant strain on healthcare systems worldwide.

Here’s the latest on supporting patient self management, care navigation and healthy behavior adoption:

Navigating the healthcare system

Patients should be vigilant about asking their healthcare providers how new treatment plans might affect their day-to-day. A recent study found that older patients who were prescribed sleep medications containing Zolpidem were significantly more likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions. Empowered patients can impact their treatment plans and often advocate for alternatives.

Source: Claims Journal

Being a patient with a medical condition is hard work. For many who try to navigate our healthcare system, a significant amount of time is lost trying to refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and manage the many other aspects of care coordination.

Source: Vox

HIPAA patient data regulations do more than just protect the privacy of patients’ personal health information—it also guarantees patient’s rights to view their medical records at any point. The Office of National Coordinator (ONC) recently released a series of videos detailing these rights and more, including how much hospitals can reasonably charge patients for accessing their personal records.

Source: Health IT Security

 

20% of patients who pay the most for medical care report having unmet medical needs. Half report that they have trouble getting referred to specialists. This survey demonstrates that when it comes to healthcare, spending power doesn’t guarantee quality.

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

 

As if going to the ER isn’t difficult enough, a new study has found that 22 percent of patients with in-network ER visits are also hit with surprise out-of-network bills due to treatment from physicians not employed by that hospital.

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

Patient Self-Care

Genetic testing is proving to be a double-edged sword. While health insurance companies are no longer permitted to deny coverage to individuals who test positive for potentially harmful gene mutations, life insurance companies are not obligated to follow the same constraints.

Source: Fast Company

 

Diabetes may be more deadly than once considered — in fact, new research suggests that it may be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. following only behind heart disease and cancer. Researchers found that diabetes-related deaths are often attributed to other conditions that are reported more often on death certificates. If true, the chronic condition may be a greater public health crisis than once thought.

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

 

Should caregiving be considered a health condition? According to this recent study, caregivers are approximately twice as likely to experience physical, financial and emotional difficulties, and those balancing caregiving with work are 3X more likely to be less productive than those who don’t provide caregiving.

Source: Chicago Tribune

 

Maintaining Good Health

It’s time to put a nail in the coffin of fat shaming. Many scientific studies have proven that weight is an imperfect measure of our health. Keeping body fat low is more important than maintaining a low overall weight. Many people who appear skinny are at equally high risk of type 2 diabetes as their heavier counterparts.

Source: Post Bulletin

 

Weight loss attempts shouldn’t feel like life or death experiences. Let’s consider the contestants of Biggest Loser. A recent study found that once the cameras turned off, every one of the contestants regained much of the weight they lost during the show. On average, they lost 128 pounds while on the show and regained about 90 pounds in the years after.

Source: Mother Jones

Loneliness is a better predictor of death than obesity, so it’s particularly concerning that over one third of seniors live alone in the US and UK. That’s why Britain’s NHS has set up a hotline for seniors to call in. Some ask for cooking advice, others to reminisce.

Source: Becker's Hospital Review

 

Finally the FDA is requiring companies to identify the added sugar in their foods. According to health experts, no more than ten percent of your daily calorie intake should come from added sugar. In light of this agreed guidelines, nutrition labels will soon also indicate what percentage of the recommended daily value of sugar food items contain.

Source: Mother Jones

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