What Is The Role Of Self-Care In Value Based Care?

I recently had a conversation with a value-based care executive. After he rejected the idea that self-care is an essential component of any value-based care initiative, I responded,
“But, given the value of self-care tools and measures, preserving health and optimizing well-being could be the glue that holds a value-based care strategy together.” His response? “I agree. Prevention begins with us, but the healthcare industry has many operational challenges to address in the near term which are drawing attention away from self-care.”

According to The New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, value-based healthcare is a “healthcare delivery model in which providers, including hospitals and physicians, are paid based on patient health outcomes. Under value-based care agreements, providers are rewarded for helping patients improve their health, reduce the effects and incidence of chronic disease, and live healthier lives in an evidence-based way.”

Though not as provocative as predictive analytics or pharmacogenomics, the results of structured self-care mirror those sought through a value-based healthcare strategy. Research has shown that patients who practice self-care as part of a health system-sponsored sustainable self-care initiative (SSCI) have been able to reduce healthcare costs by as much as 40%. Patients who practice self-care are more satisfied with, responsible for, and empowered in their healthcare. Furthermore, these patients are better able to manage chronic conditions and are more likely to actively participate in decision-making and to review their health information.

Successful SSCIs are driven by leaders who practice and model self-care in their organizations. And, recent research has even found that when leaders rate their own self-care high, their organizations are more likely to be profitable. Clearly, the universal need for sustainable self-care is shared by leaders, employees, patients, and practitioners alike.

What then, is the role of self-care in value-based care? Because self-care applies to every human being, an SSCI is a foundational component for a sound value-based care strategy. The beneficiaries of an SSCI include:

    Patients: through increased responsibility and engagement and being better able to manage chronic conditions.
    Clinicians and staff: to prevent burnout and provide clinicians with additional tools to help manage patients.
    Health system: an SSCI enables the system to build a 360-degree relationship with patients, friends, and family, increase patient satisfaction and – perhaps the most significant benefit, an SSCI increases brand loyalty to the system.
    Local employers: an SSCI can be expanded to include employee wellness programs to benefit local employers as well as the health system’s own employees.
    Community members: for community members who are not already members or frequent fliers of the health system, an SSCI can be positioned as a benefit that may attract new patients.

The response from the value-based care executive rings in my head again, “Prevention begins with us, but the healthcare industry has many operational challenges to address in the near term which are drawing attention away from self-care”. And, I wonder – in the absence of an acute medical emergency – what could be a more important goal for the healthcare industry than preserving health and optimizing the wellbeing of the human beings it serves?