Three Data-Driven Keys to Healthier Outcomes and Lower Costs in the COVID Era

By: Eric Hamborg, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, MOBE        
COVID-19 has disrupted our everyday lives, the way we manage our health, and the way we receive care. With society shifting to remote work, distanced activities, and virtual events, health and wellness support is shifting, too. For individuals with complex, chronic conditions, the combination of changes or delays in care, plus the change in daily routines, has made it even more challenging to manage their health.

More than 83MM Americans manage two or more chronic conditions, and even before the pandemic, many were accessing the healthcare system frequently without seeing positive changes in their health. This recurring pattern raises a critical question: What is preventing these individuals from getting better -- and how can we move them on a path toward better health?

The 2020 Chronic Care Action Index shines a light on the barriers people face when pursuing their health goals. The index surveyed 2,000+ consumers and 200+ healthcare professionals across the U.S. to uncover the factors that can help people get happier and healthier.

The data revealed a critical issue: a disconnect between the doctor’s office and patients’ daily lives. Despite seeing healthcare professionals frequently -- at least bi-monthy, as reported by clinician respondents -- 76% of people with multiple chronic conditions reported that their health hadn’t improved in the past year. Further, more than half (53%) of respondents with two or more chronic conditions didn’t feel additional steps to improve their health (e.g., diet, exercise, and sleep habits) were easy to understand after talking with their doctor.

Additionally, nearly 38% of people with multiple chronic conditions reported that motivation was the biggest barrier to making changes to improve their health.

Taken together, these findings highlight the need for critical changes in the way we engage and support people on their path to achieving health and wellness goals. For payers and employers seeking to support their members and employees who are struggling to get better -- especially given the unique health and business-related challenges posed by a global pandemic -- three key elements are needed in order to make a meaningful and lasting impact:

  1. A “whole-person” approach. In our new normal, individuals need support for all aspects of their health -- including medication, nutrition, fitness, sleep and mental health -- and, importantly, they may need help learning how these elements interact. Consumers reported that exercise (51%), eating healthier (40%) and getting more sleep (38%) are the health changes they most want to make, but find most difficult to achieve. Staying on track with lifestyle changes like these require support and guidance for an individual’s entire health picture. Ultimately, this will help people better understand and stick to the practical steps their doctors have outlined for them.
  2. Data-driven engagement. Health and wellness programs are only as good as their ability to reach -- and engage -- people who need support the most. We live in an age where deep data science and sophisticated algorithms can now be leveraged to proactively identify individuals who are accessing the healthcare system at a high rate without seeing results. They are most likely to benefit from additional support -- and, as they achieve improved health outcomes, to generate cost savings. In fact, data show that while these people make up 5% of an employer or payer population, they generate 20% of healthcare costs. Sophisticated machine learning technology at our fingertips can connect this “hidden” population with the personalized care and human connections they need to see real results.
  3. One-to-one support. Since the pandemic began taking its toll in the U.S., people with two or more chronic health concerns have experienced new obstacles to their health at rates nearly double the rest of the population — including increased stress or anxiety (46%), a lack of physical activity (40%), and not getting enough sleep (29%). Surprisingly, these concerns aren’t regularly discussed with doctors—when asked which topics they discuss most frequently with their patients, sleep (33%) and mental health (37%) were among the topics health care providers called out discussing the least. When one-to-one guidance is available to support individuals beyond the exam room, they can call upon a trusted health advisor for questions about prescribed medications, recommended tools to improve sleep, exercise plans, ways to improve mental health and much more.

The way we receive and provide care is changing, but that is for the better. Leveraging technology and machine learning to identify, reach and engage people in need of greater health support -- and then, connecting with them in a profoundly human way, at the time and in the manner they need -- holds the key to encouraging positive health choices, improving health outcomes, and generating significant cost savings. Now more than ever, providing this kind of guidance and support is helping savvy payers and employers meet their community’s needs.

To read more about the 2020 Chronic Care Action Index, click here.

MOBE was founded in 2014 to address a significant unmet need in the health care system: helping people who are frequent users of health care services, but are not experiencing optimal health outcomes. MOBE partners with insurance companies and large employers to provide health solutions to their members and employees at no additional cost to the health plan, the employer, or the individual. Combining data analytics, digital health and a novel one-to-one personalized approach, MOBE helps people live happier, healthier lives.

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.