You may have heard the term disease management used a bit more in healthcare over the past few years. Essentially, disease management programs teach patients how to deal with a chronic disease. They focus upon getting patients to understand how to take care of themselves. As a result, patients learn how to avoid problems and how to keep their existing health problems from getting worse.
What Is the Goal of Disease Management?
The idea of teaching patients how to manage disease originated from a mission to raise the quality of patient care. Indeed, health insurance companies embraced the concept of disease management back in 2005 as a means to control healthcare costs. They theorized that if patients were trained to take better care of their own health problems, it could save more money for the insurance companies.
By adding a structured approach to healthcare, treatment providers want to enable people to cope with their diseases. Essentially, they want to give them ways to handle the difficult parts of their treatment in their daily lives. Ultimately, the goal is to raise the quality of life for program participants.
Improved Cooperation Between Specialists and Institutions
Another one of the goals of disease management programs is to increase the level of cooperation between different medical specialists and institutions that dispense patient care such as family doctors and specialists, rehab centers and hospitals. The idea is to make sure that the different phases of treatment are coordinated between providers. This kind of information sharing, for example, could avoid the same medical test being performed twice unnecessarily.
How Do Patients Benefit from Disease Management Programs?
Taking part in a disease management program helps patients deal with chronic conditions that require regular long-term treatment. Advantages of these programs include the following:
- Receiving customized treatment from medical specialists.
- Having caregivers and therapists involved in both inpatient and outpatient care coordinating their treatment steps with one another.
- Because the doctors involved are better informed about their patients, they can give more personalized attention during appointments than they ordinarily would in a consultation.
- Special training courses enable patients with chronic diseases to take a more active role in treatment decisions not to mention finding ways to live with their disease as comfortably as possible.
Another added benefit is that many people find that a structured treatment course can cut down on the time and effort spent managing their conditions. For instance, they are relieved of the burden of searching for a particular specialist or hospital if they choose not to.
Because the concept of disease management is still relatively new, the long-term effects of this approach are still unknown. However, there is no doubt that patient satisfaction runs very high. Indeed, early study results show that while health plans are still uncertain about the health outcomes and costs, disease management programs definitely increase the satisfaction of members who take part in them.
For patients with asthma, coronary artery disease, diabetes, renal disease, depression or other chronic conditions, disease management and education can result in a reduction in medical costs or services, a better quality of life, and patient empowerment.