With a focus on prevention, some health systems are looking to organizations that have an existing foundation in wellness as partners to keep or get patients healthy.
This article first appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Eating right and exercising more is advice doctors have been giving out for decades, but getting patients to actually do it can be tough; however, healthcare reform both directly and indirectly provides a carrot and stick for healthcare providers to encourage wellness. Insurance companies have had to expand their coverage to include the now-required preventive services for adults, seniors, pregnant women, and children. Wellness visits, personalized prevention plans, and health risk screenings for patients are services explicitly spelled out in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The rationale is that catching the early onset of chronic diseases will allow providers to help patients modify their behavior to prevent future health complications and hospitalizations.
The indirect way that healthcare reform encourages wellness is by covering wellness-like services, such as exercise. Just this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services authorized coverage of cardiac rehabilitation services for beneficiaries who have had bypass surgery, heart valve repair or replacement, a heart attack within the last year, and other heart disease-related procedures. What are rehabilitation services for these patients? Exercise, plain and simple.
Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.