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.
Heart disease is on the rise, and it’s costing us 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 nearly 1 in 3 deaths in this 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 over 120 million Americans, or nearly half of U.S. adults, are directly impacted.
Most Americans either know someone with heart disease or suffer themselves, and the extreme prevalence and severity of so many cases are driving a good portion of the massive healthcare costs in this country. The recent president of the American Heart Association, or AHA, Steven Houser, PhD., has said that heart disease “could bankrupt our nation’s economy and healthcare system,” and that’s not an exaggeration. 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 killing us, and the money we’re spending to treat it is exacerbating the problem of healthcare costs in this country.
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, and improving healthy behaviors like exercise and nutrition while eliminating the unhealthy ones like smoking are often the best ways 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.
#1: Speeding up access to care
Providers who are looking to reduce wait times can drive meaningful improvements in access to care through Intelligent Scheduling, which helps make sure 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 that 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 technology like Care Pathway Messaging, providers can send specific groups of patients medication reminders, information about their treatment plans, and education about self-management skills. Some studies have shown that self-management interventions can significantly reduce hospital readmissions and save up to $7,515 per patient, per year.
#3: Support healthy behaviors
Luma Health customers are able to elicit around a 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. Providers can stay connected with patients throughout their care journeys to boost positive health outcomes.
We know health care 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. Thank you for all the work you’re doing to combat heart disease!