Chronic illness continues to be a significant challenge for the U.S. healthcare system – in terms of dollars, burden, and physical and emotional human toll. And yet, both healthcare providers and patients feel that we are not doing enough to meet the needs and improve the care of those with chronic illness, according to a new survey conducted by Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), which will be unveiled November 4 at a chronic care forum cosponsored by FMCNA and the Financial Times (FT), one of the world’s leading business news and information organizations.
The survey confirmed that virtually all physicians agree the care of patients with chronic conditions should be a top priority for the U.S. healthcare system. Yet less than half of them believe it currently is. Moreover, nearly one-quarter of chronic disease patients who see multiple doctors do not believe their doctors communicate with each other to address all of their medical needs.
A total of 288 cardiologists, nephrologists, endocrinologists and hospitalists responded to the chronic illness survey, which was conducted online in September 2015, along with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults who were contacted by phone.
One of the main barriers to improving care for the chronically ill, the survey revealed, was a lack of care coordination. Virtually all physicians surveyed said that working with other professionals provides patients with better overall care – but over half say this complicates the process of patient care.
The survey also spotlights the need for specialized, better integrated networks to meet the needs of the chronically ill. Most physicians reported that half of their patients have a combination of two or more chronic diseases – and two-thirds of their chronic disease patients are taking at least five medications on a continuous basis.
While physicians are focused on the treatment of the medical conditions, the general population requires integrated care for needs beyond their disease. For example:
"Our goal is to share frontline perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that are faced in integrating and improving care.”
But where there is a challenge, there is opportunity. Key stakeholders in the care and management of the chronically ill – providers, payers, physicians, patients – will gather at the FT-FMCNA Chronic Care Forum in New York City on November 4, 2015 to tackle the issues raised in the survey and share perspectives on how emerging chronic care models can transform the healthcare landscape.
FMCNA has worked to support efforts to transform the healthcare system from a disease-specific model to a patient-centered one, in order to address growing needs among patients with chronic illnesses, such as those with kidney failure. By building an integrated, data-driven network of specialized caregivers, FMCNA is uniquely poised to address the unique needs of these chronically ill patients, leading to better health outcomes for patients and lower overall costs for the healthcare system.
Ron Kuerbitz, CEO of FMCNA, said the Forum is an important step in that direction. “Our goal is to share frontline perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that are faced in integrating and improving care,” he said. “With the treatment of chronic diseases already accounting for 86 percent of healthcare spending in the U.S., new ways to manage patients with complex chronic conditions will need to be found if the healthcare system is to remain sustainable into the future. We are proud to be part of starting the conversation to make sure that happens.”