Patient Self-Management Support – More than Simply Patient Education

The challenge for patients trying to self-manage their chronic illnesses can be overwhelming.  Today’s chronically ill patients are being relied upon to manage the multitude of factors that contribute to their own health and well-being, but this requires patient education and support in self-management.

Some experts regard patient self-management as a key area where there is opportunity within the U.S. healthcare system for improving quality of care and reducing overall costs including those associated with avoidable hospital admission and readmission rates.

As healthcare professionals, it is critical that we develop supportive processes and systems to support this patient self-management beyond simply educating patients.

Self-management programs must go beyond relying on physicians and physician office visits.  The use of an RN or MSW Care Coach to emphasize an individualized approach that addresses the needs and concerns defined by the patient and their situation is the key to success.

The Care Coach’s role in self-management education and support includes:

  • Supportive disease-specific educational interventions
  • Specific patient-centered coaching interventions to increase patients’ skills and confidence in managing their health issues
  • On-going assessment of progress and problems
  • Goal setting and collaborative decision-making
  • Problem-solving support
  • Motivation, encouragement, and reinforcement
  • Follow-up

The use of technology and virtual care models, such as those developed by Celtic Healthcare, will enhance and improve the patient experience and success of self-management programs.

As we collaborate as a healthcare community towards accountable care, we must remember that the patient’s ability to self-manage the growing epidemic of chronic illnesses can be one of the key strategies for achieving improved quality and overall cost savings.

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