Individualized care, new innovations key to stemming the tide of chronic disease

Stemming the Tide of Chronic Disease

07.15.13 | By John Castellani

A chronic disease is detrimental to more than just the person who has it – its impact ripples through the health care system and economy as a whole. According to research by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 80 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the United States goes to treat chronic disease. Its significance cannot be overstated.

Last week, seven health care thought leaders addressed the issue. Our latest ‘Conversations’ question (When it comes to prevention of chronic disease, what one policy change would have the greatest impact on moving from “promise” to “results?”) brought forward insightful and interesting perspectives from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, the Association of Black Cardiologists, the National Partnership for Women & Families, Research!America, the National Health Council, GlaxoSmithKline and the National Psoriasis Foundation. Despite the different constituencies these organizations serve and represent, they are all striving to reduce rates of chronic illness to help the health of patients. Several trends emerged from their answers to the question.

While it might sound simplistic at first, the most effective way to prevent chronic disease is to help people remain healthy in the first place. Strengthening patient-provider relationships and encouraging providers to work together to develop individualized care plans for specific patients will go a long way to driving down rates of chronic disease. Improving communication between a provider and patient can increase medication adherence rates, leading to better health outcomes and making a dent in the $300 billion non-adherence costs annually. Moreover, recognizing that each individual has different biological, lifestyle and behavioral challenges, a health care plan should be like a fingerprint – everyone has one, but they are all different. With just five percent of Medicaid enrollees accounting for more than 50 percent of all Medicaid spending, individualizing care and focusing on improving delivery to targeted demographics could dramatically improve results and drive down costs.

In addition, research and development of new medical innovations has the potential to open doors to treatments and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. Today, there are 215 new medications currently in development to treat heart disease and stroke alone.

By working together, we can improve, extend and save the lives of tens of millions of Americans who suffer daily from chronic disease. We will all feel the impact of these efforts.

We’re thrilled with the responses so far, so please keep them coming by joining the conversation.

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