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Managing a serious health condition is never easy. Just ask Kentucky resident Joliene Garlich, who has Crohn’s disease. She didn’t know much about the condition before being diagnosed, but she knew her symptoms kept her from feeling well and spending quality time with her family.

Garlich is one of thousands of people who have signed up for concierge care from Elevance Health. It gives her a direct connection to her care manager, who leads her care plan, as well as the ability to track her symptoms and locate disease-specific information.

What is Concierge Care?

Concierge care combines the ability to text with a care manager with an app that includes a variety of resources, such as videos, daily goals, medication adherence tools, food and exercise tracking, information and educational content, and questionnaires. Concierge care also provides a portal designed specifically for care managers, where they can see how each of their patients is doing every day. It exemplifies the definition of patient-centered care.

“The goal is to make it easier for people to manage their chronic conditions through digital technologies, because many people often find these tools convenient to use. We want to equip our members and give them more ways to manage their health, including accessing additional information about their condition,” said Dr. Sophie Clarke, who leads clinical strategies and partnerships for Elevance Health. “We complement the digital aspects with the human factor of a health advocate or care manager they can reach at the press of a button. It makes it easy for people to reach out proactively instead of waiting for their care manager to call them for regular check-ins.”

A Close Connection to Case Managers

Reach out they do. More than half of the chats in 2022 were initiated by consumers rather than care managers. Concierge care includes programs for Crohn’s disease, oncology, heart failure, behavioral health, COVID-19, Type 2 diabetes, high-risk maternity, and post-hospital discharge care transitions. This patient-centered care approach may be expanded to support additional conditions throughout the year.

“The best thing about concierge care is Kelly [Cooper]. She’s my nurse, my personal connection,” Garlich said. “And she just knows almost everything about Crohn’s.” Garlich appreciates being able to reach Cooper through the concierge care app wherever she is — on the run, in the car, at work, or at home.

“Getting answers to my questions from Kelly and from the app has freed me from worrying and having to search online for information, letting me spend more happy time with my family. It’s led to me feeling better, too,” said Garlich. “She’s like my medical mentor.”

“It’s a privilege for me to be able to take care of our members this way,” Cooper said, “through the app, digitally, on a daily basis, sometimes five or six times a day. This is a totally different way of thinking, a different way of doing things and we’re coming to the member to meet their needs.”

Positive Results With Concierge Care

Concierge care won a platinum 2022 eHealthcare Leadership Award for Best Care/Disease Management. It has more than 4,800 enrollees so far, and the goal is to have 40,000 people signed up by the end of 2023. There have been positive initial results:

  • 60% of members are actively engaged in the app.
  • 76% of enrolled members use the app to complete surveys and track health data.
  • 15% remain active in maintenance mode after the final week of their condition-specific program.
  • Emergency department use has fallen by 39% for people involved in the oncology program.
  • Members report a 25% decrease in Crohn’s Disease symptoms and flares.
  • Over 50% of enrolled members initiate chats with their care team.

Concierge care works in a variety of ways to provide patient-centered care and help people manage their health conditions. They can fill out daily symptom surveys, link data from their weight scale directly to the app, set medication reminders, and earn points for completing daily goals related to water intake, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and smoking cessation. Most valuable for many people is the daily contact with their care manager.

While the connection with a care manager may be digital, people who participate in concierge care are not talking to a robot. The empathy and support come from a real person who can help them understand the situation and offer help when they need it. 

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