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Health Plans Medicare

Condition Management Q&A with Virgin Pulse Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jeff Jacques

Approximately one in three adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions around the world, demonstrating the critical need to provide your members with condition management support programs. These person-centered, high-touch programs help members manage their conditions while improving holistic wellbeing and quality of life.  

Condition management benefits and solutions play a crucial role in helping you contain soaring healthcare costs while maintaining healthy and productive members, which directly impacts your organization’s overall success and performance. 

We sat down with Dr. Jeff Jacques, Chief Medical Officer at Virgin Pulse, where he shared his clinical perspective on condition management and how you can better support your members’ needs.  

  • What are some of the key challenges for someone to get support for their chronic condition(s)?  

In response, health plans created Condition Management programs, geared towards connecting an individual with a chronic condition to an expert in that condition. The goals of these programs are to engage and educate these members, provide support, and connect them to other services while removing barriers. But first, health plans need to identify and reach members, engage them with the program, and track their progress along the way to demonstrate the program’s positive impact. 

  • How can an employer support their employees who have chronic conditions?  

Chronic condition support is critical to help your members stay focused on the importance of being their own advocate for their health and wellbeing. As employers, it’s important that you create and maintain a culture of wellbeing to support your employees’ work-life harmony. A culture of wellbeing helps you support employees with a chronic condition as well as help others engage with their wellbeing proactively. Easily accessible and relevant resources and support are key in helping achieve these goals. 

  • What are the key social determinants of health that contribute to chronic conditions?  

All social determinants are important. We say that 60% of health is lifestyle and environment and social determinants make up all that 70%. To focus on only one or a couple means you ignore others that are equally important.  

The ideal, which is sometimes challenging to achieve, is to address them all in such a way that each individual is supported and able to beneficially impact the 70% of wellbeing that can be impacted by living optimally. 

Practically speaking, implementing programs and benefits that cover all social determinants allows for individuals to engage with the programs that can best impact them and the social determinants that are a challenge for them specifically. 

  • How can those with chronic conditions find the right care at the right time?  

Individuals with chronic conditions should look for expert systems and programs, such as their organization’s health and wellbeing program if they have one, that utilize data and analytics to identify patterns and present personalized support and solutions in moments that matter.  

These systems and programs have to be proactive, easy to find and engage with, and are ideally on a single platform. Also, the platform needs to understand how each member likes to engage and what type of message will motivate them to engage. 

  • What are the top chronic conditions and, in your professional opinion, why do you think they are the most common? 

We’ve all have seen the most recent data, as per the Business Group on Health’s 2022 study, cancer has become the single largest cost condition overtaking musculoskeletal conditions for the first time. But heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular conditions continue to account for more deaths. 

As we look at the underpinnings of chronic illness, we find a similar pattern with some combination of diet, weight, activity, and environment leading to the development of a condition that often goes unnoticed for months or years.  

This last point is why chronic condition management is insufficient by itself. I know, I’ve spent the first 15+ years of my career in the industry building condition management programs. To truly move the needle, we need to help individuals become better custodians of their own wellbeing. Physical activity, social connection, a balanced diet of good quality foods, and preventative care are all critical to achieving and maintaining work-life harmony. 

Additional reading 

Driving critical behavior change for obesity, hypertension & diabetes 

Virgin Pulse data scientists conducted a one-year study to evaluate the effectiveness of our Homebase for Health® platform in driving behavior change and achieving meaningful outcomes. The study involved analyzing biometric data from more than 90,000 members with risk factors related to BMI, blood pressure, or blood glucose.