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3 health care trends for 2023
(Family Features) With many people preparing for health and wellness resolutions in the new year, understanding the state of access to care and other patients’ booking choices may give a sense of optimism for 2023.
To examine the outlook for 2023, Zocdoc, a free platform where people can find and book in-person or virtual health care appointments across more than 200 specialties and 12,000 insurance plans, analyzed appointment booking trends and conducted a provider survey. The results are reflected in the report, “Healthcare Hope For the Holidays: 2022,” which provided three key insights.
Happier Providers, Happier Patients
Provider and health care staff burnout can have a negative effect on patient experience, and 52% of providers surveyed indicated they agreed or strongly agreed practices will face increased financial challenges in 2023. However, savvy providers and support staff are taking steps to run more efficient practices, including using technology. This saves providers time and stress, giving them more time to focus on patient care.
In 2022, positivity pervaded providers’ perspectives on technology:
- 64% of providers indicated they agreed or strongly agreed their scheduling software helped their practice run more efficiently.
- 57% agreed or strongly agreed their telehealth solution was easy and intuitive to use.
- 36% agreed or strongly agreed insurance verification and eligibility software helped their practice run more efficiently.
This perspective paints a positive picture for patient-provider relationships in 2023:
- 71% of providers agreed or strongly agreed scheduling software will help run a more efficient practice.
- 69% agreed or strongly agreed technology will help practices run more efficiently.
- 59% agreed or strongly agreed their telehealth solution will become more intuitive and easier to use.
Technology Can Speed Up Access to Care
Amidst the unprecedented landscape of labor and supply costs rising, and physician and staff burnout a reality, innovation is driving positive change for patients. With a growing number of people embracing technology as a driver of access to an improved health care experience, and patients and providers aligned on telehealth as a supplement to in-person care, there are reasons for optimism.
Expediting patients’ access to care by surfacing the 20-30% of appointments that become available last minute due to cancellations and rescheduled appointments allows Zocdoc to enable faster speed-to-appointment for patients, compared to the averages reported in the Merritt Hawkins 2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times.
- Cardiology: Typically 1-3 days with 39% seeing a cardiologist within 48 hours, compared to 26.6 days national average appointment wait time
- Dermatology: Typically 1-3 days with nearly 30% seeing a dermatologist within 48 hours, compared to 34.5 days national average appointment wait time
- OB-GYN: Typically 1-3 days with nearly 26% seeing an OB-GYN within 48 hours, compared to 31.4 days national average appointment wait time
- Orthopedic surgery: Typically 1-3 days with nearly 38% seeing an orthopedic surgeon within 48 hours, compared to 16.9 days national average appointment wait time
- Family medicine (PCP): Typically 1-3 days with 42% seeing a PCP within 48 hours, compared to 20.6 days national average appointment wait time
Looking Back to Look Forward
Unique, actionable insights into consumers’ health care behavior can be derived from 2022 data, providing a glimpse into what’s to come. Examining the industry’s journey affords the opportunity to predict what may continue to resonate in 2023.
For example, patients got back to regular care appointments after delaying or canceling appointments following the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset.
Additionally, telehealth usage declined in all specialties except mental health, moving virtual care toward being a specialty- and case-specific care modality. Consider these appointment trends from January-November:
- 18% of appointments across all specialties were conducted via telehealth.
- Excluding mental health, just 9% of booked appointments were conducted via telehealth.
- 88% of mental health appointments were conducted via telehealth.
To find more information or book an appointment, visit Zocdoc.com.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
Caring for older adults: Managing heart attack treatment, follow-up care
(Family Features) As the proportion of older adults in the U.S. continues to increase, appropriate care for older people becomes increasingly important. In fact, caregivers and loved ones should be aware of age-appropriate care for heart attack or chest pain.
The first step is to call 911. Once medical care is started, age-related changes in general health and in the heart and blood vessels require consideration, and likely modifications, in how people age 75 and older are treated, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published in its flagship, peer-reviewed journal “Circulation.”
The statement, “Management of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in the older adult population,” highlights evidence to help clinicians better care for older patients. According to the statement, 30-40% of people hospitalized with ACS, which includes heart attack and unstable angina (heart-related chest pain), are age 75 or older.
“Older patients have more pronounced anatomical changes and more severe functional impairment, and they are more likely to have additional health conditions not related to heart disease,” said Abdulla A. Damluji, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, chair of the scientific statement writing committee, director of the Inova Center of Outcomes Research, and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “These include frailty, other chronic disorders (treated with multiple medications), physical dysfunction, cognitive decline or urinary incontinence.”
Normal Aging and Age-Related Changes in the Heart and Blood Vessels
Cardiovascular changes that occur with normal aging make ACS more likely and may make diagnosing and treating it more complex. These changes include large arteries becoming stiffer, the heart working harder but pumping less effectively, blood vessels becoming less flexible and less able to respond to changes in the heart’s oxygen needs and an increased tendency to form blood clots. Sensory decline due to aging may alter hearing, vision and pain sensations. Kidney function also declines with age, with more than 1/3 of people ages 65 and older having chronic kidney disease.
Multiple Medical Conditions and Medications
As people age, they are often diagnosed with health conditions that may be worsened by ACS or complicate existing ACS. As these chronic conditions are treated, medications prescribed may result in unwanted interactions or medications that treat one condition may worsen another.
“Geriatric syndromes and the complexities of their care may undermine the effectiveness of treatments for ACS, as well as the resiliency of older adults to survive and recover,” Damluji said. “A detailed review of all medications – including supplements and over-the-counter medicines – is essential, ideally in consultation with a pharmacist who has geriatric expertise.”
Steps for Heart Attack Care and Follow-Up for Older Adults
- Call 911 if you notice someone experiencing heart attack warning signs. These include chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body (one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach), shortness of breath or other symptoms such as a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- Consider treatment needs for co-existing conditions. An individualized, patient-centered approach is best for older adults.
- Get input from multiple specialists, including a pharmacist, to manage care and medications.
- People with cognitive difficulties and limited mobility may benefit from a simplified medication schedule, with fewer doses per day and 90-day supplies of medications so fewer refills are necessary.
- The goals of care for older people with ACS should extend beyond clinical outcomes and focus on quality of life and the ability to live independently.
- Do-not-resuscitate orders should be discussed before any surgery or procedure.
For more information about managing ACS in older adults, visit Heart.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Heart Association
How cold weather activities can impact heart health
(Family Features) Clearing sidewalks and driveways of snow may be essential to keep from being shut in, however, it’s important to use caution when picking up a shovel or starting the snowblower. Research shows many people face an increased risk of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest after shoveling heavy snow.
In fact, snow shoveling is among the physical activities that may place extra stress on the heart, especially among people who aren’t used to regular exercise, according to the American Heart Association’s scientific statement, “Exercise-Related Acute Cardiovascular Events and Potential Deleterious Adaptations Following Long-Term Exercise Training: Placing the Risks Into Perspective – an Update.” Numerous other scientific research studies over the years have also identified the dangers of shoveling snow for people with and without previously known heart disease.
“Shoveling a little snow off your sidewalk may not seem like hard work,” said Barry Franklin, Ph.D., FAHA, lead author of the scientific statement, long time American Heart Association volunteer and a professor of internal medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. “However, the strain of heavy snow shoveling may be as, or even more, demanding on the heart than taking a treadmill stress test, according to research we’ve conducted. For example, after only 2 minutes of snow shoveling, study participants’ heart rates exceeded 85% of maximal heart rate, which is a level more commonly expected during intense aerobic exercise testing. The impact is hardest on those who are least fit.”
Franklin said winter weather in general can contribute to increased risks. Cold temperatures may increase blood pressure while simultaneously constricting the coronary arteries. Those factors, combined with higher heart rate from extra physical effort, may increase the risk for acute cardiac events. There are even studies showing an increased risk for heart attacks among people using snowblowers. Similar to the exertion of pushing a shovel, pushing a snowblower can raise the heart rate and blood pressure quickly.
“The impact of snow removal is especially concerning for people who already have cardiovascular risks like a sedentary lifestyle or obesity; being a current or former smoker; or having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure; as well as people who have had a heart attack or stroke,” Franklin said. “People with these characteristics and those who have had bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty simply should not be shoveling snow.”
If you experience chest pain or pressure, lightheadedness, heart palpitations or irregular heart rhythms, stop the activity immediately. Call 911 if symptoms don’t subside shortly after you stop shoveling or snowblowing. If you see someone collapse while shoveling snow, call for help and start Hands-Only CPR if they are unresponsive with no pulse.
Learn more about cold weather and cardiovascular health at Heart.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Heart Association
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