Dementia is becoming more prevalent as time passes. Currently, about 6 million Americans are suffering from this debilitating illness. By 2060, that number is expected to almost double for people above 65 years old. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and it’s a disease that poses several problems for the caretaker. As a family member with someone suffering from dementia in the family, it must be hard on you.
The situation can look bleak as the health bills are accumulating and the dementia patient is not getting any better. The fee-for-service system is becoming obsolete because it incentivizes healthcare providers to order tests, drugs and unnecessary procedures. What if we told you that there is a much better system that we could use to change the lives of dementia patients?
The value-based care system integrates multiple healthcare providers into one team. It offers holistic and lifestyle recommendations to dementia patients. By our accounts, the offset of dementia could be delayed or even prevented entirely!
What Does Value-Based Care Involve?
Through the value-based care system, we would shift the incentive from recommending unnecessary tests to focusing on health outcomes. Therefore, dementia patients would improve their quality of life by benefitting from an integrated healthcare system that focuses on their wellbeing and not accruing health bills.
In this new system, healthcare providers would be paid based on the health outcome of their patients. For instance, doctors would teach patients about lifestyle choices, dieting, healthier life choices, and so on. Suppose a patient has multiple chronic conditions and must visit numerous physicians per month under the old system. They’ll receive several consultations, a few blood tests, and several medicine prescriptions.
In a value-based care system, that same patient would visit one medical center per month, where they would receive one consultation from a team of medical professionals. This integrated healthcare team would include medical specialists fit to care for all of the patient’s chronic conditions and transform their lifestyle. Exercising, dieting, medicine, and other holistic approaches would be the norm.
Based on our estimations, patient is less likely to visit the emergency room as their medical conditions worsen. To summarize, the value-based care model has a patient-centric approach, keeps hospitalization costs low, and promotes favorable health outcomes instead of increasing health bills.
How Do Dementia Patients Benefit from a Value-Based Care Model?
Caring for dementia patients is a multistep process that’s both difficult and time-consuming. This is especially the case if the patient has comorbidities, which is highly likely. They need daily support, good communication, a good diet, daily exercising, reminders, bathing, and so on. The fee-for-service system makes a caretaker’s job increasingly harder as comorbidities pile up.
With value-based care models, this doesn’t happen. An integrated team of professionals will look at the patient’s entire health history and implement a broad series of changes impacting the patient’s quality of life. This includes everything enumerated above, besides the patient’s comorbidities.
Value-based care models help patients with all aspects of their lives, unlike a fee-for-service system. Let’s assume a patient with dementia also has hypertension, osteoarthritis, respiratory, and cardiac diseases. In the old system, the patient would have to visit multiple healthcare professionals: primary care, cardiology, pneumology, neurology, and pain-related professionals.
This leads to multiple consultations, blood tests, follow-up visits, and several procedures recommended by all those physicians, which is both time-wasting and inefficient for the patient. In a value-based care system, the patient would receive a centralized form of assistance where every physician collaborates to increase the patient’s quality of life and treat their comorbidities efficiently.
Patients with dementia may also forget to take their medication, and their diet and physical condition will degenerate over time. That’s where dietitians, physical therapists, and pharmacists enter the fray. They can maintain the patient’s lifestyle on the floating line and provide transformative solutions that even increase their quality of life.
Value-Based Care Models May Prevent Dementia
Dementia and cognitive decline are intertwined. Or are they? In a value-based care model, physicians will support and empower the patient in a way that increases the patient’s quality of life substantially. The doctors will also feel incentivized to intimately understand the patient’s condition and behaviors. This helps them control the patient’s cognitive health, effectively delaying cognitive decline.
Some lifestyle choices that reduce and/or prevent the onset of dementia include healthy weight, increased physical activity, quality sleep, a nutritious diet, avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption, a healthy social life, and more. This type of dementia-centric education is just as crucial for family caretakers as the doctor’s active support.
Value-based care models are conclusively better at improving the outcome of dementia patients than fee-for-service systems. Elderly patients will feel supported and understood by their family members and the medical community, leading to slower cognitive decline and a higher quality of life over time.