Chronic Care Management: Talking Points for Holiday Patient Engagement
Chronic Care Management: Talking Points for Holiday Patient Engagement Blog Feature
Patti Russ, CNP

By: Patti Russ, CNP on December 20th, 2021

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Chronic Care Management: Talking Points for Holiday Patient Engagement

Chronic Care Management

For a care manager, the holidays can be a challenging time. Especially if you're tasked with engaging patients enrolled in Chronic Care Management (CCM)

Many of your patients are traveling to visit family, are entertaining guests, or are lost to shopping, and they're just too busy to answer the phone. But when you can reach them, it’s important to offer your patients a few tips to help them stay healthy.

Between office closures, scheduling difficulties, and even holiday sweets, care for chronic conditions can face complications

In my experience as a care manager, I’ve found that patients will not only listen when you have a chance to speak with them, but they appreciate the support and often report success.

Below, I'll present a few talking points associated with two core areas of concern for chronic care patients. These topics can help engage your patients during this busy time of year, and they may help them navigate care challenges often faced in December.

Management of Patient Medications

Many doctors' offices close through the holidays. So, you'll want to remind your patients to plan ahead for medication refill requests. 

It's wise to suggest that they have enough of their medication on hand to last til the new year.

The same is true for travel.

Discuss any travel plans with your patient and help them prepare what they need to bring.

This can include medications and any necessary care equipment.

Typically, I advise the patient to pack a few more dosages than they would usually need , just in case of any accidental medication loss.

If they're traveling, be sure your patient has a complete medication list, as well as the name and phone number of their doctor’s office.

Lost luggage can leave your patient at a destination without their medicine.

If this occurs, they can call their doctor’s office with the name and phone number of a local pharmacy, and the prescriptions can be called in for the length of their visit.

Management of Dietary Concerns

Chronic conditions are inherently linked to the food you eat

As your patients celebrate the holiday season, they'll most likely enjoy a special meal, or 1 or 2 sweets. Just as most of us do. But, it's important to help your patient not over-do it.

For example, it takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize when your stomach is full. So, suggest to your patient that they eat slow and wait at least this long before having seconds.

For those who need to limit carbohydrates, avoiding sweets is important. But, it's also key to stay away from other foods, such as mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, or rice. 

Patients with diabetes should check their glucose levels frequently to ensure their readings are steady. Adjustments in diet, exercise, or sliding-scale medications are more successful if your patient's glucose level is only mildly elevated.

Water will also help your patient feel more full and aid digestion. Encourage your patient to increase their intake unless they are on a restriction. 

Lastly, your patient should be cautious with alcohol consumption.

Many cocktails are rich in sugar. And alcohol can interact poorly with many medications.

Dry red or white wines are usually the safest choices. They contain fewer calories than mixed drinks, and the sugar content has already been converted to alcohol.

Your patients should limit their number of drinks to 1 to 2 for women, or 2 to 3 for men.

Encourage Your Patients to Enjoy the Season!

Feel free to reassure your patients that they can still enjoy themselves through the holidays.

While they'll need to mind their decisions, as chronic conditions can exacerbate or lead to complicated illnesses, a little holiday cheer goes a long way toward positive mental health.

So, as a care manager, keep your suggestions simple.

All that's required of your patients is medication  management and basic dietary guidelines. 

Beyond that, encourage enjoyment, in the ways that are meaningful to them. 

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About Patti Russ, CNP

Since September of 2016, I have had the role of ThoroughCare's Clinical Director. Having worked in a variety of clinical settings for several (uncounted) years, I've been able to use the practical experience gained and my education as an Adult Nurse Practitioner to write the medical content for our software. I am also engaging patients on a monthly basis for the CCM Program, which helps the company recognize and act upon changes needed in a timely manner. Living in Cleveland for 50+ years with my husband of 42 years, and attending THE Ohio State University has been a trial when working with the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh staff, but it builds character....