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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — at Luma Health, the patient comes first. And for patients across America, heart disease and its risk factors including obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol, and others are serious concerns. This month at Luma Health, we join countless patients, providers, and organizations in proudly participating in American Heart Month. Here are some facts everyone should know about heart disease and the threat that it poses to American patients, and here’s what Luma Health is doing to support patients’ care outcomes.
Heart disease is on the rise, and it’s hurting both our health and our bank accounts.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women — each year, it’s responsible for approximately 1 of every 3 deaths in the country. People with heart disease may suffer from a wide range of conditions and specific diseases ranging from high blood pressure to stroke and heart attack. Anything that impacts the functioning of blood vessels or the heart’s muscle and rhythm can result in a form of heart disease, and recent numbers indicate that the disease impacts over 120 million Americans — nearly half of U.S. adults.
Most Americans either know someone with heart disease or suffer from the disease themselves, and the extreme prevalence and severity of these cases are significantly driving up healthcare costs in this country. The recent president of the American Heart Association, Steven Houser, PhD., has said that heart disease “could bankrupt our nation’s economy and healthcare system,” and he wasn’t exaggerating. A few years ago, heart disease was costing the U.S. around $200 billion a year in healthcare costs plus lost productivity, and the AHA estimates that will balloon to $1.1 trillion over the next 16 years. Heart disease is wreaking havoc on our nation’s health, and the money we’re spending to treat it is only exacerbating the astronomical healthcare costs in the United States.
Heart disease’s risk factors come down largely to lifestyle.
Even though the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease is a massive driver of health spending, most of its causes and aggravators are behaviors that take place outside of providers’ offices. The AHA has named seven key risk factors for heart disease, including both health indicators and behaviors, called Life’s Simple 7. The “simple 7” include smoking, exercise, diet, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Each of the indicators and behaviors have a proven impact on heart disease. Often, improving healthy behaviors like exercise and nutrition while eliminating the unhealthy ones like smoking is the best way to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease.
Curbing heart disease’s power—what providers can be doing to support their patients.
Though so many heart disease risk factors are largely beyond the healthcare provider’s direct control, cardiologists, family physicians, and other providers are working hard to mitigate the impact of heart disease among their patients. Many are going beyond the traditional healthcare delivery model to do so. In particular, modern care providers are focusing on three key goals that work in tandem to boost health outcomes.
#1: Speeding up access to care
Providers who are looking to reduce wait times can drive meaningful improvements in access to care through Patient Scheduling+, which helps ensure that each empty slot in the schedule gets filled and gets patients the care they need sooner. Automated outreach helps get referred patients scheduled and through the doors more quickly. In fact, using Luma Health, cardiology and primary care practices fill 63% of referrals — that’s over 25% higher than national referral fill estimates.
#2: Boosting medication adherence and self-management skills
Many patients are taking medication to alleviate risk factors for heart disease, including 70% of patients with high blood pressure. Yet studies estimate up to 60% of cardiovascular patients may not be sticking to their medication plan, which could have serious implications for their health down the line. The good news is providers have more tools at their fingertips now than ever before—through secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging platforms, providers can send medication reminders, treatment plan information, and self-management education to specific groups of patients. Studies have shown that self-management interventions can significantly reduce hospital readmissions and save up to $7,515 per patient each year.
#3: Support healthy behaviors
Luma Health customers are able to elicit around an over 50% response rate from patients of all ages — from young adults to Medicare patients. Through ongoing, text-based health engagement campaigns, patients can get key information about improving their healthy behaviors from the most trusted source: their own healthcare provider. To boost positive health outcomes, providers must be connected with their patients throughout their entire care journeys.
We know healthcare staff from across the country — from the front-desk staff greeting patients to the doctors prescribing medications — are working hard every day to improve the patient health. From all of us at Luma Health, thank you for all the work you’re doing to combat heart disease!