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Benefits of a self-managed model of healthcare

According to Statista, someone born in the U.S. in 1900 could expect to live, on average, for 48 years. People born in 2000 have a life expectancy of 76 years. We’re all living longer, thanks to improvements in health care, from vaccines to antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, to better diets, water quality, and sanitation, as well as education.

Our aging population has also led to a larger number of people living with chronic conditions. Unfortunately, those chronic health conditions cost the U.S. $1.1 trillion in 2016, or almost six percent of our GDP. These costs (which continue to escalate) hurt the entire healthcare system, including insurers, providers and patients. In addition, the U.S. is already dealing with a shortage of providers, and spending more time treating patients with chronic illnesses puts a strain on already overworked, burnt-out clinicians, as well as patients who often don’t get the health support they need.

Chronic conditions aren’t just about physical issues. Almost 20% of people in the U.S. have a mental health condition. In 2019, spending for mental health services and treatment reached $225 billion.

The costs of a chronic mental health condition can outweigh the costs of a physical condition. For example, someone with depression might spend 10,836 a year on health costs, while a person with diabetes could spend $4,800 annually on that condition.

It’s no wonder that health plans are looking for ways to reduce costs. One way to do that, with the added advantage of increasing support for providers and patients with chronic illnesses, is to implement a self-managed model.

The Self-managed model

In the self-managed model, instead of acting solely on the recommendations of providers, patients play an active role in determining their care. This takes some of the time burden off clinicians, saves money by using less clinician time, and gives back some control of managing the condition, to the patient.

Self-managed support includes providing not just education, but also problem-solving skills to patients, especially in the areas of preventive health. These include lifestyle and behavioral interventions for healthier eating, more physical activity, smoking cessation, and weight maintenance.

Controlled clinical trials that include self-management have shown the following results:

  • Teaching self-management skills is more effective at improving clinical outcomes than providing patients only with information
  • Educating patients on self-management can reduce costs for chronic conditions. For patients with mental health conditions, self-managed support can come in the form of using evidence-based tools.

The Self-managed model and evidence-based medicine

The self-managed model works in conjunction with evidence-based medicine.

Evidence-based medicine includes three components: research-based evidence, provider expertise, and the patient’s values and preferences. Together, these three areas offer value to insurers, providers, and patients.

Research-based evidence also proves the effectiveness of healthcare tools, including evidence-based Digital Mental Health Tools (DMHTs).

Evidence-based DMHTs are a great fit for healthcare’s new era of value-based, patient-centered, integrated care. Online mental health programs are also a perfect fit for the self-managed model. That’s because they help patients actively take part in their mental health management, by using Internet-based mental health services, whenever and wherever they need assistance. DMHTs are accessed through the Web or with a smartphone or other Internet-enabled device.

SilverCloud® by Amwell®’s self-managed DMHTs

In a recent review of studies, scientists found that DMHTs were effective in treating mental health issues. In many parts of the world, including the U.K, DMHTs have been integrated into health systems.

Several case studies with SilverCloud® customer partners, including St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) and OSF Healthcare, have also proven the clinical effectiveness of DMHTs compared with traditional in-person mental health services.

DMHTs also save insurers money, especially by reducing the number of in-person visits. In the case of SLUHN, during the first 21 months of using SilverCloud, the health system saved $17 for every dollar spent on SilverCloud, or 17 times its Return on Investment (ROI).

Interested in finding out more about how SilverCloud’s self-managed DMHTs provide support to patients and providers, as well as save money? Learn more on our information page for health plans.