Physician survey reveals key pain points for effective management of chronic care patients

Patients with two or more chronic conditions account for more than two-thirds of the entire Medicare population, according to CMS. Caring for these patients requires extra time, a resource most physicians don't have, according to a recent study conducted by SmartCCM, a chronic care management solution.

The report, called "Challenges in Caring for Patients with Two or More Chronic Conditions," found 63 percent of primary care physicians point to a lack of time to provide the extra guidance chronic care patients need to better understand their treatment plans as one of their top two challenges in working with this patient population. The second challenge, indicated by 56 percent of PCPs, is the complexity of managing multiple conditions.

Nearly half (46 percent) of PCPs are not aware they can be reimbursed for non-face-to-face time with Medicare patients who have two or more chronic conditions, the survey revealed. Subsequently, 38 percent of physicians do not contact their Medicare patients with two or more chronic conditions between office visits. However, in January 2015, Medicare introduced CPT code 99490 as a way to reimburse physicians for the extra time, staffing and technology necessary to sustain comprehensive chronic care management.

Regarding compliance with a specific care plan, the polled physicians characterized three-quarters of their Medicare patients with two or more chronic conditions as "somewhat compliant."

The survey polled 500 PCPs who treat Medicare patients between July and August.

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