January 25, 2021
How Chronic Care Management Can Reduce Secondary Symptoms in Disease Management
Medical advancements have extended life expectancy. We’re living longer than ever before—but the question remains: are we living healthier lives? Those who survive primary illnesses often have secondary symptoms to contend with, many of which are chronic and life-altering. Not only do these come with physical challenges: the mental strain that comes from dealing with a chronic illness is vast, and something that has been, up until recently, largely overlooked.
All of this is changing as medical practitioners gain a familiarity with the physical and psychological effects of chronic illness. In this article, we’ll delve into how Chronic Care Management (CCM) can reduce secondary symptoms in disease management.
What are Secondary Symptoms?
Secondary symptoms are health complications caused by primary symptoms. Despite the name, they often cause issues that are more severe than that from which they stem. The good news is, most of these can be managed, and in some cases, reduced or avoided, through CCM.
Why are Secondary Symptoms Often Overlooked?
There are lots of reasons secondary symptoms go unaddressed. In some instances, healthcare systems are overstretched, meaning primary symptoms become the focus while other issues fall to the wayside. In other cases, patients don’t have the time or funds to address what may seem like issues of lesser importance. This is especially true if the symptoms are ‘invisible’: anxiety and depression manifest in a variety of ways, all of which can drastically lower the quality of life for the patient.
For example, someone struggling with depression might lack the motivation it takes to maintain treatment plans, as well as regular exercise and healthy eating practices. This has the knock-on effect of exacerbating existing symptoms—primary and secondary—as well as causing additional symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, and digestive problems.
According to WebMD, research indicates that depression rates are high among patients with chronic conditions:
- Heart attack: 40%-65% experience depression
- Parkinson’s disease: 40% experience depression
- Multiple sclerosis: 40% experience depression
- Chronic pain syndrome: 30%-54% experience depression
- Cancer: 25% experience depression
- Diabetes: 25% experience depression
- Coronary artery disease (without heart attack): 18%-20% experience depression
There’s also a lack of understanding when it comes to mental health conditions and practitioners often aren’t well equipped to deal with the complex challenges of psychological, social, and cultural elements of illness. Chronic illness sufferers are more at risk of suffering from depression due to health worries, negative thought patterns, and concerns about the strain they believe they’re putting on friends and family.
How Healthcare Providers Can Help Patients Manage the Secondary Symptoms of Chronic Disease
Clinicians play a vital role in helping patients uphold healthy coping skills. A healthy lifestyle can help you live a longer, happier life—even if you’re living with a chronic illness. If physical health is poor, mental health can be affected—and vice versa.
“More individuals are living with multiple chronic conditions, impacting their health and daily lives,” said Yogini Chudasama, an epidemiologist and statistician at the University of Leicester’s Diabetes Research Centre.
“We found a healthy lifestyle, in particular, abstinence from smoking, increased life expectancy by as much as 7 years. Our study has important implications for the public’s health, as we hope our findings have shown that it’s never too late to make vital lifestyle changes,” she added.
While progress has been slow, our understanding of how holistic therapy and technological innovations combined can help mental health is steadily growing. Telehealth, telemedicine, and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) have all played a huge role in helping patients connect to specialists with ease, allowing for faster diagnoses, better treatment, not to mention more regular contact.
This, in turn, helps patients feel more supported and more likely to adhere to treatment plans—while clinicians can track progress and use this information to provide better treatment. With regular access to patients’ health data, practitioners can coach patients to a healthier way of living.
How Digital Healthcare is Improving Quality of Life
Accomplishing health goals is so much easier with the regular support and guidance of an expert—and digital health is making this easier. Telehealth makes it possible for patients to beam a doctor straight into their homes: no need to travel, pay for childcare, or risk infection in clinic and hospital waiting rooms. Moreover, patients can also speak to a variety of specialists without being limited to those in their immediate locality. They have a global network of specialists just a click away.
How ChronWell Can Help
Our digital solutions include telemedicine, Chronic Care Management, and Remote Patient Monitoring services that make it easier for doctors to diagnose and care for patients suffering secondary symptoms as part of their chronic illness. This includes coaching, guidance, and mental health support, each of which provides a solid foundation on which patients can build healthier lives.
If you’d like to find out more about setting up a CCM plan, speak to one of our experts today.
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