More than a third of U.S. seniors find themselves struggling to manage more than one chronic health condition. Many patients that struggle with conditions like diabetes and heart problems also suffer from some level of depression.
Researchers at the University of Washington conducted a yearlong study on the effects of “team treatment” for patients with multiple chronic conditions. The findings of the study not only shed some light on a course of treatment that is much more effective, but that could result in substantial savings on health care costs as well.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that there may be some benefit in having a single health care provider who is designated to manage the care of all conditions. The study consisted of specially trained health care providers who closely monitored all aspects of patient health, including depression, and coordinated treatment of all conditions. After a period of a year, participants in the study had fewer symptoms of depression and better control over other chronic health conditions than patients who received more traditional types of care.
This isn’t the first study to show just how much of an impact a specially trained health care provider can have on managing chronic conditions either. Previous research conducted at the University of Washington also showed how patients can benefit from one nurse managing and coordinating care. Finding and relying on the right health care provider to coordinate care for chronic conditions may be one of the very best methods for improving patient outcomes.