For those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), regular disease management is critical to maintaining good health. When COPD symptoms are not managed properly and become worse, those living with COPD can experience complications that can have a negative impact on their overall quality of life, such as difficulty breathing, severe exhaustion, and more. With COPD management practices like healthy lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medications or treatments, and continuously monitoring symptoms, patients can both improve their conditions and reduce the risk of exacerbating symptoms. With improved health outcomes, patients will also significantly reduce their risk of being hospitalized.
Reducing Hospitalizations With COPD Management
When it comes to treating patients with any illness, keeping them out of the hospital and ensuring their symptoms are under control is a top priority for all healthcare providers. When patients are admitted to the hospital due to worsening health conditions, it can take a negative toll on them and their loved ones. Not only are hospitalizations difficult for patients and those who care for them, they also have a negative impact on our healthcare systems. Although readmission rates for patients living with COPD tend to be higher than those with other illnesses, there are proven measures that can reduce the likelihood of readmission. This blog will highlight the importance of COPD patient management, and its impact on hospital readmissions.
Allows Patients to Self Monitor and Recognize Symptoms
As a part of self-management training for patients with COPD, it is important to educate them on what symptoms to take note of, and when they should be reported. When COPD symptoms are caught early on, the risk of patients being admitted to the hospital decreases significantly. By having patients self-monitor and track their symptoms, they can become more familiar with regular changes in their condition, and learn the appropriate measures to take as soon as symptoms begin worsening to avoid hospitalization.
With management tools such as virtual COPD care pathways that can be accessed from anywhere, patients can access resources to help identify symptoms, and input these changes into their platform to notify their care team. With many platforms, patients’ symptoms can be easily identified through automated care plans which can trigger an automatic response providing the next steps a patient should take. Patients can then take immediate action to make changes to their routine, or request a virtual or in-person healthcare visit to create a plan to mitigate their symptoms with the help of their care team.
Allows Providers To Quickly Respond to Changing Symptoms
COPD is a life-long illness that, if treated and managed early on, can remain manageable. That being said, every patient’s journey with COPD will be different, and it is more common than not that the severity of each patient’s symptoms will fluctuate over time. When patients are able to identify and report changing symptoms early on, their healthcare providers can begin addressing any issues before their condition becomes worse.
Patients are not always aware of the signs that their symptoms are becoming severe because they often don’t know what to look for. With effective COPD management, patients will routinely check in with their healthcare provider and update them on their symptoms. This allows their care team to identify symptoms that could lead to exacerbation early on, providing them valuable time to take the necessary steps with their patients to improve their condition and avoid a visit to the hospital.
Allows Patients To Connect With Members of Their Care Circle When Needed
Patient care circles can include family members, healthcare staff, specialists, and other individuals who are responsible for ensuring they are continuously managing their illness. While having a large care circle can greatly benefit patients and help with their disease management, it can sometimes be difficult to keep all members in the loop. Furthermore, many patients who live in rural communities can face challenges connecting with members of their care circle in person due to difficulties travelling.
Unfortunately, these challenges can often lead to patients delaying important healthcare visits. If problematic COPD symptoms are ignored for too long, patients face an increased risk of experiencing a flare-up and being admitted to the hospital to treat their condition. To overcome this, healthcare providers can utilize virtual care pathways to help patients stay connected with their care circle at all times. With platforms such as aTouchAway, all chosen members of a patient’s care circle can receive regular updates on the status of their health. Patients can also speak directly with their healthcare provider through the platform to begin taking the necessary steps to improve their condition without having to wait for, or travel to, an in-person appointment.
Motivates Patients To Continue With Their Progress
Patient motivation plays a critical role in improving health outcomes and reducing hospitalizations. Unfortunately, when patients are admitted to the hospital due to COPD symptoms that have become too difficult to manage on their own, it can negatively impact their outlook on the future of their illness. For this reason, motivating patients to continue with their progress is essential to improve their long-term health outcomes.
One way healthcare providers can help motivate patients to continue with their progress is by providing them with effective management tools and proper support. One study found that with regular contact and support from patients’ care circles, they are more likely to increase their physical activity and improve their health. As patients begin regularly taking measures to better manage their illness and have the support they need, the likelihood of their symptoms progressing to the point of requiring hospitalization continues to decrease.
Benefits of Reduced Hospitalizations
Reducing hospitalizations for those living with COPD can have a positive impact on the lives of patients and our healthcare system. Thankfully, with advancements in healthcare and more research being put into COPD management, there are many things healthcare providers can do to ensure quality care for their patients and reduce the need for hospital admissions.
When patients are admitted to the hospital, there is an increased risk of them being readmitted shortly after, especially within the first year. In a journal published by Arch Intern Med, their research found that 9% to 48% of all hospital readmissions could have been prevented if the care patients received while in the hospital and after their discharge was handled differently. Arch Intern Med’s journal also states that hospitalizations account for roughly half of all healthcare expenses, and that just 13% of hospitalized patients in the U.S require more than half of all hospital resources when they are continuously readmitted.
These statistics make it clear that reducing the number of hospital admissions for patients living with COPD can free up valuable healthcare resources and reduce strain on already overwhelmed healthcare systems. Patients can also benefit greatly by having more control over their health and will experience an improved quality of life when they are less likely to be hospitalized.
By ensuring patients are equipped with the right tools to effectively manage their COPD, and with continuous support, healthcare providers can help reduce the number of hospital admissions and readmissions their patients’ experience.
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