What does the future look like for chronic disease management after the pandemic?

long term conditions

News that the Covid Expansion Fund has been extended by another £120 million is welcome for both GPs and patients alike. One of the goals of this fund, which was issued to general practice by the government, was to help GP practices make inroads into the backlog of appointments for chronic disease management.

About 26 million people in England are living with at least one long term condition, with some ten million people having two or more conditions. These can affect the way they live their lives and can be anything from asthma to depression or diabetes.

The role of a primary care clinician is essential, but there is a considerable cost associated with caring for these patients. People living with a chronic disease are more likely to use health and care services and sadly are less likely to be in work, which can have socioeconomic impacts on their health, increasing the need for preventative healthcare and interventional measures at a primary care level.

And some 15 per cent of children aged 11-15 are living with a condition which they will have to manage for the rest of their lives. For them, early intervention and ongoing monitoring during the early stages of a disease can make the difference between ongoing serious health problems and the need for unscheduled care and a well managed condition.

This is where Medloop comes in. Our Patient Management Optimiser is designed to risk stratify those patients with chronic diseases, allowing them to fill in health questionnaires on their phone or computer and in their own time.

The PMO allows the identification, contact, survey and review of patients with chronic diseases at a cost we believe is significantly lower than if it were carried out ‘in house’. Research carried out by a highly respected think tank has pointed towards this method of carrying out reviews as popular with patients.

According to a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research, 77 per cent of people surveyed thought their long term conditions and other ongoing health conditions could and should be managed independently at home, including seven in ten people who use clinical services frequently. Only three per cent rejected that idea.

Those numbers should be music to the ears of those at all levels of involvement in Primary Care, from the top of NHS England to those on the front line in practices and their essential clerical teams.

Three quarters of respondents agreed in some way that if they had better information and support they could manage more of their care independently, without the need for direct medical intervention such as visiting a surgery. Younger people were more likely to agree with this, but this survey taken pre pandemic will probably show a vast number of people more confident in self management and digital first methods than at this time a year ago.

Interestingly, people on lower incomes were also more likely to strongly agree than others – possibly because of the increased burden on their time which routine appointments and health visits take out of the day of people managing long hours, shift work and juggling work and family responsibilities. For them, the prospect of information on their smartphone and filling in surveys for themselves, children or elderly parents with long term health conditions could be a significant help.

We often assume that people on lower incomes are less likely to want to use digital methods, but this response indicates that is not a fair assumption to make. The average person has 26 million objects connected to the internet. They aren’t all going to be 40 something people on above average salaries – that’s not really mathematically likely.

The drive by the government for Digital First is something which can be of benefit to everyone if implemented correctly; from the busy working mum to the businessman with a number of long term conditions through to the GP with an increasing patient list and the receptionist who battles everyday with a telephone which always has people waiting in the queue.

But at Medloop we don’t just believe in digitalising legacy practises but using technology to deliver new efficient and practical working methods. A report by the Department of Health into long term conditions found that around 70 per cent of the total healthcare spend in England is attributed to caring for people with long term conditions, and these same people with chronic diseases account for half of all GP appointments.[1]

The majority of people aged over 65 have two or more long term conditions; over 75 it rises to three or more and those numbers are expected to keep going up particularly as life expectancy follows the same trajectory.

Does that mean they should be viewed as a problem? Is there a risk that they are treated as such?

Of course they should not. Everyone, regardless of health condition, gender, race or any other characteristic must be able to access good quality healthcare. And for most people the entry into the healthcare system in the UK is via their GP.
That’s why Medloop designed the Patient Management Optimiser which allows GPs and PCNs to see more patients with chronic diseases at a lower cost and in a way which is much more convenient for the patients themselves.

Using the Medloop PMO removes a huge burden currently placed on administrative teams for appointment bookings and helping to cut telephone waiting times for urgent patient enquiries.

Moreover, we don’t just hand you over the results and expect you to deal with them: the results from the surveys and any reviews carried out by our team is coded directly into the patient record using SNOMED codes, streamlining your QOF reporting.

If you are ready to look at the post pandemic landscape and want to see how Medloop can help you and your patients, we’d be delighted to hear from you and show you how we can help.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/long-term-conditions-compendium-of-information-third-edition

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