If you want a glance at our healthcare system, the health of those it serves is a clear reflection. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 34% of Americans have metabolic syndrome. In contrast, only 12% of Americans are considered metabolically healthy. Metabolic syndrome is a set of five risk factors that frequently co-exist, and patients only need three of them to establish a diagnosis. Here is the comprehensive list of factors:
- abdominal obesity
- elevated blood pressure
- elevated fasting blood sugar
- elevated triglycerides
- low HDL cholesterol
Metabolic syndrome drastically increases the risk of developing full-blown chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and more. Chronic diseases account for approximately 86% of the $3.5 trillion annual healthcare costs in the United States—and they’re largely preventable.
Diabetes is a particularly significant contributor to healthcare costs in the United States. In 2017, the total cost of diabetes in the United States was estimated to be $327 billion, including direct medical costs (e.g., medications, hospitalizations) and indirect costs (e.g., lost productivity due to missed work). The direct medical costs of diabetes alone accounted for $237 billion, or 10% of all medical expenditures in the United States.
When society’s biggest challenges go unsolved, we often assume the culprit is a lack of understanding or viable solutions. Fortunately, this notion does not apply to the metabolic disease crisis. Doctors, researchers, and innovators have disease prevention down to a science. This science is composed of an array of proven preventive care methodologies, and it’s been studied, solidified, and successful. With this knowledge at our fingertips, why do so many still suffer from metabolic syndrome and chronic disease? Effectively answering this question requires consideration of healthcare’s broader issues. However, you don’t have to be well-versed in the pitfalls of the healthcare system to see that the systemic underinvestment in preventive care (and those that provide it) is a critical failure.
The Role Of The Primary Care Provider
We want disease prevention for everyone, and we need primary care to get there. We’ve written about the importance of Primary Care Providers for identifying and treating metabolic syndrome here, but we’ll give you the rundown:
Despite the well-recorded association between increased primary care physician supply and lower mortality, we don’t have nearly enough PCPs per capita in the United States (American Medical Association). Still, medicare reimbursement reductions continue to squeeze the profits of these providers. Increasingly difficult revenue cycles among an already burned-out provider population reduce primary care access, exacerbating existing health inequities. Predictions by the AAMC unveil a future where this situation continues to deteriorate. The projected shortage of primary care physicians in 2034 is up to 55,000 almost the size of all other specialties combined (up to 77,100). Additionally, the shortage will be particularly concentrated in rural and low-income urban areas.
But there is hope yet: the same changes in billing structures that ultimately leave providers responsible for outcomes without any prior tools or training, present a vital opportunity for providers to generate revenue for providing preventive care.
When you consider the enduring and personal relationships primary care providers have with their patients, it’s a perfect storm. Armed with the right tools, providers can leverage their unique relationships to create meaningful behavior change. On top of that, the “right” tools will enable providers to do so systematically across their patient population, generating more revenue and healthier patients in their practice as a whole. Enabling primary care providers to achieve the aforementioned goals systematically reduces provider burnout in parallel. The result is a ripple effect that improves primary care access and efficacy, tackling health inequities and reducing the occurrence of preventable diseases.
The Role of PreventScripts
We are committed to helping primary care providers identify and treat metabolic conditions early within their rising-risk populations. We’ve engaged nearly 4,000 patients in their risk with our assessments. Our Prevention Remote Patient Monitoring program patients have experienced a systolic BP reduction of 12% and a Diastolic BP reduction of 13%, on average and are achieving the 5% modest weight loss needed to reduce their risk of disease onset. Here are the numbers:
- 46% of patients are on their way and have lost 1 to 4% of body weight
- 32% of patients have achieved the gold standard and have lost at least 5% of body weight
- 21% of patients remain at a stable weight
“When you combine blood pressure reductions and weight loss that brings a population’s chronic disease into remission, you’re reversing the damage of the metabolic disease. When you do that, you’re targeting 86% of our healthcare costs. We’ve figured out how to help primary care providers do that systematically while increasing revenues.” – Natalie Davis, MD
We’re committed to helping primary care providers identify and treat metabolic disease. If you are interested in learning how PreventScripts positively impacts primary care revenues and patient health outcomes, click the button below!