What Is Disease Management And Does It Work?

Disease management is an approach to healthcare that educates employers and employees on how to manage a chronic disease. You may hear others refer to this by chronic disease management.

Disease management programs (DMPs) can help employees learn to take action when it comes to their overall well-being. DMPs help employees become responsible to take care of themselves. Since the majority of chronic diseases are preventable, it helps them avoid potential problems and exacerbation, or worsening, of their health problem.

Before we jump in, Kadalyst helps employers build disease management programs for their employees. Disease management can also refer to healthcare providers having programs for their patients. However, in this specific article, we’re discussing disease management programs for employers.

A great example to use would be the chronic disease known as “diabetes.” A disease management program could be put in place to help teach diabetes patients how to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

Companies are always looking for a way to control their healthcare costs. In fact, this played a key role in the growth of such programs. Employers knew, if employees could learn how to take better care of their health, the company and insurance companies would save money. 

A fascinating study done by the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University noted that 44 percent of Americans who live at home have chronic conditions and they account for 78 percent of the health care expenditures in the United States. That’s an incredible number when you think about it, we’re talking about nearly 80 percent of health care expenses. 

Better control of chronic diseases could lower healthcare costs.

The Pillars Of Disease Management 

The Disease Management Association of America identifies the following components of disease management as follows:

  • Identify Target Populations – Which chronic diseases should be addressed and how can people be enrolled in the program?
  • Establish Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines – Do this for all the conditions that will be managed.
  • Build Collaborative Practice Models – In addition to physicians, disease management programs utilize nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and other team members.
  • Educate Employers And Employees: Design a program to teach self-management to both employers and employees.
  • Always Measure Outcomes – Establish procedures for tracking costs, utilization, health outcomes.
  • Feedback Loop And Reporting – It allows you to continuously improve your program.

Conditions Targeted for Disease Management 

These are the most common conditions that disease management programs target, they include but are not limited to:

  • Heart Diseases (Congestive Heart Failure, Hypertension, Coronary Heart Disease)
  • Lung Diseases (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Liver Diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • Psychiatric Disorders (Clinical Depression)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease (Dementia)

What’s The Main Purpose?

The main aim of a DMP is to reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with chronic disease and stop them from getting worse. Additional focuses would be preventing complications or accompanying diseases from developing.

In addition, this structured approach to treatment aims to help people cope with their disease and to show them ways of dealing with the demands of their treatment in everyday life. All of these things together aim to improve quality of life for program participants.

Disease management programs also aim to improve cooperation between the various specialists and institutions that provide care for a patient, such as family and specialist doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation centers. This is meant to ensure that the individual treatment steps are well coordinated and, for example, avoid the same medical test being done twice unnecessarily.

Is Disease Management Effective?

When done correctly, absolutely! Disease management has come a long way from when the concept was brought to the surface in the early 2000s. While early reports during that time showed programs were not effective controlling costs, it did show patients were seeing improvements in their quality of life.

More than a decade later, countless studies have been published and show that these programs do provide healthcare savings on costs. It has shown equal results for employers and employees. The right disease management program can cut your healthcare costs and improve the quality of life of your employees.

The key is having clear goals on what you need to achieve and an actionable plan to make the goals achievable.

This is where Kadalyst can help. Our care management program s a three phase approach impacting healthcare costs and improving health outcomes for all plan members and employees. If you’d like to learn how it works or want to talk with one of our specialist to answer your questions, you can reach us at (503) 512-5175 or you can click here to use our contact form.

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