The Top Challenges for Patients with Chronic Diseases
Chronic disease, defined as any disease lasting three months or longer, is a way of life for many Americans since they are commonly incurable and life-long. In 2017, about 80% of senior adults report having at least one chronic disease and therefore having to adjust to the daily lifestyle changes and challenges that come with chronic illnesses. 40 million Americans have a limited daily life because of their chronic health conditions.
Below we explore some of the biggest challenges that patients living with a chronic disease face and some of the ways that health care is working to assuage them.
High cost of care is inescapable with chronic conditions, due to the fact that patients simply need to use healthcare facilities more frequently. More than two-thirds of all health care costs are spent treating chronic conditions. Additionally, increased spending on chronic diseases is a major driving factor in patients with Medicare. 68.4% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic diseases.
Learning how to manage side effects of chronic conditions, including side effects of medication, is a major challenge for patients with chronic conditions. Patients with chronic diseases experience both major and minor physical symptoms associated with their condition and are faced with the challenge of managing them while maintaining their lifestyle. Chronic diseases can affect a person’s daily life, restricting their enjoyment in normal activities with family and friends. Learning a new way of life and coping with new physical limitations is one of the biggest challenges for chronic sufferers, affecting almost half of them.
The physical limitations that are caused by chronic conditions are just the tip of the iceberg; significant emotional challenges also exist. Additionally, learning that it may be impossible to ever be cured of a condition can have a major emotional toll on the patient. Some emotional challenges that chronic sufferers must cope with include fear, denial, anger, and/or depression.
Medication management and care coordination
Care for patients with more than one chronic condition can be complex and require more coordination than the average patient. Patients with multiple chronic conditions will have multiple doctors, who may or may not be working together to manage the patient as a holistic unit. As a result, patients with more than one chronic condition can experience issues in managing more than one medication or disease. Some medications can make others less effective, requiring care coordination for the patient. Increasing care management resources for chronic disease sufferers is imperative for the proper care of the patient.
How healthcare is improving care of chronic conditions
Because of the growing concern for those suffering from chronic conditions, the healthcare industry has sought out ways to change the current landscape for Americans. Innovations in healthcare are improving the lives of those with chronic disease while helping to prevent those conditions which are preventable. Healthcare reimbursements have shifted focus to value-based models in order to improve outcomes for patients. Patient-centered care models have also been adopted, encouraging more comprehensive chronic disease management and a focus on preventative care. These patient-centered care programs can educate, provide care coordination, and give patients tools to contact the right person when help is needed.
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