It wasn't too long ago that acclaim was awarded to to anyone with those two words on their lips. The term's appearance on marketing materials guaranteed fat contracts. Including "disease management" in the title of a manuscript or as a proposed MeSH term was scientific journal editor catnip. That and its inflated jargon (engagement! outcomes!) was enough to prompt a HHS Secretary to turbocharge an industry. Health insurer execs coveted disease management more than their ability to deny life-saving transplantations in children. Budgets doubled, titles inflated and careers were launched.
We all know what happened next. The downward spiral of incredulity reached critical mass when the debacle called Medicare Health Support transpired. When the depths of physician hostility became apparent, it was almost a near death experience. Recriminations led to corporate retreats, which then revamped business models and refreshed branding. Among the many outcomes was that the moniker "disease management," like Britney Spears, partially hydrogenated fats and Teletubbies, lost its luster. Even the "Disease Management Association of America" dropped its name in favor of "DMAA, The Care Continuum Alliance."
But seriously, change happens and, to paraphrase a famous bard, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet. While newer versions of remote coaching services for chronic illness are still going strong, end-to-end and interlocking care programmatic interventions in wellness, prevention, workplace health promotion, behavioral health, technology-enabled care, pharmacy and complex care management are providing a potent mix of patient services to the vast majority of self and fully insurance programs plus the Medicaid insurers. If its big and it's tackling quality and cost in cohorts, networks, populations or books of business, it makes little difference what you actually call it.
In a future post, the DMCB will explore why it thinks the phrase "disease management" may still have legs.