Doctor checking patient's pulse

How Providers Can Help Heart Failure Patients Self-Manage

MAY 04, 2023


Heart failure (HF) is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and its prevalence is expected to continue to rise. Managing HF requires a comprehensive approach that includes medication management, lifestyle modifications and self-monitoring.

While health care providers are crucial in educating patients about HF and its management, self-management remains a critical component of long-term care. Providers, including both doctors and nurses, play an essential role in educating HF patients about their condition and how to manage it.

This article will explore how providers can help HF patients self-manage their condition, using digital tools and other strategies to improve patient education, accountability and compliance.

Common Obstacles to Self Management

There are several obstacles that providers may encounter when trying to educate and support HF patients in self-management.

  • Limited time. Providers may have limited time with patients due to competing demands.
  • Language barriers. Providers may need to communicate with patients who speak a different language, which can be challenging.
  • Health literacy. Some HF patients may have low health literacy, making it difficult to understand and follow treatment plans.
  • Lack of social support. HF patients who lack social support may struggle to manage their condition effectively.
  • Financial constraints. Some HF patients may have financial limitations that make it challenging to access medications or make lifestyle changes.

Providers can work to overcome these obstacles by using plain language, providing written materials, using interpreters or translation services, involving family members or caregivers and referring patients to community resources that can provide financial assistance.

Supporting Heart Failure Patients in Self Management

Health care providers can play a crucial role in helping HF patients self-manage their condition. Some ways providers can support HF patients in self-management include:

  • Patient education. Providers can educate HF patients about their condition, including its causes, symptoms and treatment options. Nurses should use the ‘teach-back’ method to clarify understanding.
  • Self-monitoring. Providers can teach HF patients how to monitor their symptoms and progress, including how to track weight, blood pressure and other vital signs.
  • Medication management. Providers can work with HF patients to ensure they understand how to take their medications properly and manage any side effects.
  • Lifestyle modifications. Providers can help HF patients make lifestyle changes such as modifying their diet, increasing physical activity and avoiding triggers that may exacerbate their symptoms.
  • Referrals. Providers can refer HF patients to other health care professionals and community resources that can provide additional support and assistance.
  • Digital tools. Providers can recommend and educate patients on using digital tools such as mobile apps, wearable devices and online platforms to help with self-management and tracking their symptoms and progress.
  • Follow-up appointments. Providers can schedule appointments to monitor HF patients’ symptoms and progress, adjust medications as necessary and provide ongoing support and guidance.

The Value of Digital Tools for Self-Management

Digital tools have revolutionized how we approach health care, offering new opportunities for patients to engage in heart failure self-management and improve their health outcomes.

For patients with chronic conditions such as HF, digital tools can be particularly valuable, providing them with access to information, resources and support that can help them take an active role in managing their condition. One study found a 50% reduction in hospital readmission rates in the 30 days following discharge, with 73% of patients still using the tool after the 30-day study period.

From mobile apps to wearable devices, digital tools offer a range of benefits for HF patients, including improved accountability, seamless information sharing with health care providers, patient empowerment and increased compliance with treatment plans.

Accountability for the Patient
Digital tools can be important in helping patients hold themselves accountable for their heart failure self-management. HF patients can use digital tools to track their weight, blood pressure and symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. By regularly monitoring these factors, patients can better understand how their condition progresses and adjust their self-management plan as needed.

Digital tools can help patients track their lifestyle behaviors, such as physical activity, diet and sleep. By monitoring these behaviors, patients can identify patterns and change their habits to improve their overall health and well-being.

By providing patients with a clear picture of how their actions affect their health, digital tools can help patients take an active role in their self-management and hold themselves accountable for their progress. This can lead to better outcomes, improved quality of life and greater control over their condition.

Seamless Information Sharing
Digital tools can facilitate seamless information sharing between patients and their health care providers. By enabling patients to track and share their health information, digital tools can improve communication and collaboration between patients and their health care team, leading to more coordinated and effective care.

With an app like Cormeum, patients can easily share their health data with their health care team, allowing their providers to monitor their condition, adjust treatment plans as needed and provide timely feedback and support. This can help identify potential issues early on and prevent complications, ultimately improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

By enabling real-time information sharing between patients and their health care team, digital tools like Cormeum can help to break down barriers to care, such as geographical distance and limited access to health care resources. This can be particularly beneficial for patients with HF who may have complex care needs that require ongoing monitoring and support.

Patient Empowerment
Digital tools can empower patients with HF and other chronic conditions, helping them to actively manage their health and improve their overall quality of life. By providing patients with information, resources and support, digital tools can help patients feel more confident and in control of their condition.

One way that digital tools can empower patients is by providing access to educational resources and self-management tools. Many mobile apps and online platforms offer educational content on HF, including information on symptoms, treatment options, recipes and lifestyle modifications. By giving patients access to this information, digital tools can help them make informed decisions about their care and take a more active role in managing their condition.

Digital tools can also help patients connect with other patients and health care professionals for support and guidance. For example, online forums, support groups and telehealth services can give patients access to peer support and expert guidance, even if they cannot attend in-person appointments. This can be particularly beneficial for patients living in remote or underserved areas or with limited mobility.

Patient Compliance
Patient compliance is key to successfully managing HF and other chronic conditions. Unfortunately, many patients struggle to adhere to treatment plans due to various factors, such as forgetfulness, side effects and lifestyle barriers. Digital tools can help patients comply with their treatment plans by providing reminders, tracking progress and offering personalized support.

One way that digital tools can help patients stay compliant is through the use of medication reminder apps. These apps allow patients to set reminders for when to take their medications and provide information about dosages, side effects and other important medication-related information. By providing patients with these reminders and resources, medication reminder apps can help patients stay on track with their medication regimen and avoid missed doses.

Digital tools can also offer personalized support to help patients overcome barriers to compliance. Many mobile apps and online platforms offer virtual coaching or telehealth services. By providing patients with personalized support and guidance, digital tools can help them address challenges and progress toward their treatment goals.

Improving Heart Failure Patient Outcomes

HF is a complex condition that requires ongoing management, self-monitoring and lifestyle modifications. While there is no cure for HF, effective management can reduce symptoms and prevent unnecessary hospital stays. When patients are given the tools and resources to manage their condition at home, they become active participants in their own care. This collaborative effort between patients, families and health care providers ultimately leads to better symptom management, reduced hospitalizations and improved overall quality of life for HF patients.