I’ve written several pieces over the last few weeks highlighting our efforts to better integrate primary healthcare into the treatment plans for folks with mental illnesses- but the issue of providing better coordinated care for folks with multiple chronic medical conditions is really far bigger than this integration issue.  More than 25% of Americans have multiple chronic conditions like arthritis, asthma, chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  Treating folks with multiple conditions is both complicated and expensive- and more coordinated efforts are a key to improving both.  In fact, 66% of all health care spending in the US goes toward caring for the 27% of folks with co-occurring chronic medical conditions. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) knows full well that better care coordination for these folks is critical if the nation is going to do a better job of improving health care efficiency and containing costs.  There are a number of efforts underway to address these issues- many of which are summarized in a strategic framework document that HHS put out a few months ago called Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Strategic Framework.  The framework is just that- an outline of a strategy- and it includes a vision statement, goals, objectives, and discrete strategies to guide HHS in coordinating its efforts internally and collaborating with stakeholders externally. 

By the way, our tobacco & chronic disease team is leading the state’s efforts to help folks better manage their illness.  One of their tools is the Stanford Chronic Disease Self Management Program– which is an evidence-based program which empowers folks to recognize and address the factors which impact their chronic conditions.  Through Healthy Living, individuals can develop and implement personalized action plans, take ownership, and achieve improved health outcomes that are both manageable and sustainable.  Our team (under the leadership of Ramona Rusinak) and the Arizona Living Well Institute has identified this as a core element of its overall strategic direction.