To improve outcomes over all, we have to get better at providing care for chronic conditions. This is the message of the HealthStream article, Manageable but Often Overlooked: Chronic Disease Treatment Will Play a Vital Role in Effective Population Health Efforts.
Focusing More on Populations That Require More Care
An oft-quoted statistic in healthcare is that 20 percent of patients generate 80 percent of costs. There’s some debate about those exact figures, but a hard truth is that one segment of the patient population, those living with chronic conditions, do absorb a tremendous amount of healthcare providers’ time, attention, and resources. What makes finding success even more difficult is that our healthcare system was developed with a focus on “a young, working population with episodic injuries or infrequent infections, not seniors with multiple, complex, and chronic conditions” (Beveridge, 2018) whose care needs are more commonly met across the non-hospital care continuum. Reflecting the need for improved training resources, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that an environmental scan of the care environment for people with multiple chronic conditions performed by HHS in 2015 revealed “a paucity of evidence-based curricula to train the workforce” (HHS, 2015) on addressing the unique and complex needs of this population.
Treating chronic conditions can be difficult for a variety of reasons, from an inability or unwillingness to follow a treatment plan, to poor cooperation due to socioeconomic or even transportation issues and coordination among healthcare providers focused on a single healthcare challenge. And with each passing day, this population’s conditions often worsen, requiring even more expensive, back-end care.
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