Addressing multiple chronic conditions with a personalized, comprehensive care solution

It’s estimated that more than 40% of U.S. adults have two or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. And as the number of chronic conditions a person has grows, the more challenging it becomes for that person to manage their overall health.

Meanwhile, 90% of annual healthcare costs in the U.S. can be attributed to supporting people with chronic and mental health conditions, and 85% of total employer-based healthcare spending is related to chronic conditions.

At Forum 2022, Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella, Chief Medical Officer for Teladoc Health, led a panel discussion featuring perspectives from leaders who are successfully addressing these challenges in their organizations. Panelists included:

Aji Abraham, Senior Vice President, Health Plan Business Innovation and Market Solutions, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Jessy Rosales, Vice President, Total Rewards North America, SAP

Darcy Sementi, Manager, Healthcare Benefits, State Farm

Jennifer Layne, Director, Medical Science and Communications, Dexcom

A seamless solution for managing multiple chronic conditions

Sementi knew early during her time at State Farm that helping employees with multiple chronic conditions would be a top priority. She also recognized that a comprehensive solution would be key to achieving positive results, including better outcomes in metabolic indicators.

“Moving forward with a whole-person solution allowed us to make sure we were meeting the needs of people with these complex conditions,” Sementi said. “From prediabetes, hypertension, diabetes, as well as mental health, a whole-person solution brought all of those together.”

A recent analysis of Teladoc Health members underscores this point. For example, people enrolled in the Teladoc Health diabetes management program and another program, such as hypertension or weight management, saw greater improvement in their A1c levels compared to those enrolled in only the diabetes management program. Enrollment in our mental health program was the greatest contributor to improved clinical outcomes.

A data-driven approach to personalized care

“You simply cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to the management of chronic conditions,” Raman-Tangella said. “You have to put data to use. You have to personalize.”

One way to inform a more personalized treatment plan is the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Layne said the Dexcom CGM demonstrates the power of connected data.

“It gives us a wealth of data—not just for our population health management and evaluating our outcomes and programs, but on an individual level,” Layne said. She added that members can choose to share their personal data with their physicians to create a more connected approach to care.

The impact of mental health on chronic conditions

Of course, managing one or more chronic conditions requires what may be lifelong behavior modifications, which can be especially hard for people who also struggle with mental health. Despite the enduring stigma around seeking mental health support, Rosales said that providing mental health resources is an important part of SAP’s approach to whole-person care. “These resources are very well-utilized, and they are also a differentiator,” Rosales said. “At the end of the day, people appreciate and value this support we offer.”

On the health plan side, mental health has become a core component of benefit programs regardless of employer size, according to Abraham.“If you don’t integrate mental health, it’s going to be more difficult to improve the outcomes of other chronic conditions,” Abraham said.

Health equity and chronic conditions

Social, cultural and access issues can all influence health outcomes, according to Raman-Tangella. Understanding the role these factors play in an individual’s life can shed light on how to better engage them in health management programs.

“Teladoc Health has been an amazing partner in part because of its investments in targeted messaging and its ability to customize and accommodate different audiences,” Sementi said. State Farm leans heavily on its partnership with Teladoc Health to identify opportunities to continually drive higher engagement among key populations like seniors.

And it’s working. “Some people thought that seniors might not use telehealth or technology-driven services,” Abraham said. “We’ve seen the data and the results, and that’s not true."

A look toward the future

There is still plenty of opportunities to improve how people manage multiple chronic conditions. “Our goal is to have healthcare that works for people—an experience that is easy to access and understand,” Abraham said.

Panelists agreed that healthcare can be complex for the people they serve—whether due to a lack of communication, education or integrated programs. “We need to talk their language,” Rosales said. “We need to use terminology that makes sense to our employees.”

It’s also important that members have a clear understanding of what they are being asked to do, according to Sementi. “It truly comes down to integration,” she said. “And making sure that as we bring together healthcare ecosystems, we never lose sight of the customer.” According to Layne, partnerships will drive these changes. “Whether it is partnerships with industry, employers or health systems, I think we are going to see innovations that will increase access and awareness—and that will help drive outcomes.”

Don’t miss a single moment from the event. Get more insights on the future of virtual care from Forum 2022.