Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Report from the Chronic Care & Prevention Congress

What a day. The Disease Management Care Blog got to moderate an afternoon session at the World Health Care Congress' 3rd Annual Chronic Care & Prevention Congress. The speakers were David Nash, MD, MBA and Dean of the Jefferson School of Popualtion Health, Chris Selecky, the President and CEO of LifeMasters and Charles Wilhelm, MD, the Chief Medical Officer of Health System One. The theme of the session was "modern approaches to to chronic care design."

Dave led things off by describing the founding of the school and the creation of the first ever Masters program in 'Chronic Care Management.' That's right, population-based chronic care has evolved to the point where the science warrants its own higher degree track. Disease management is growing up.

Chris described several care programs being run by LifeMasters that clearly demonstrate how much disease management has grown up. No longer relying on a simple 'call center' model, this disease management organization is using a variety of interlocking approaches, outreach and incentives that are designed to help the patient and the doctor do the right thing. Given numbers like an 85% physician action rate in response to 'health alerts,' LifeMasters may be closing in on the secret sauce.

Yet, Charles described a population-based initiative that was remarkably minimalist when it came to any external support. Rather, assigned patients in a full-risk population were stratified, their needs and gaps in care were communicated to the physicians, a risk adjusted fee was provided and then Health System One got out of the way. And the docs responded.

While much of the Congress focused on that Chosen Favorite Darling of the beltway policy makers, the patient centered medical home (more on that in a later post), the DMCB's session was instructive on the growing maturity and diversity of population-based programs in general. The 'take-aways' for the DMCB were a) this care management science is really growing in sophistication and 2) there is a 'suite' of options out there when it comes to chronic illness care; the best fit may be less a matter of dogma and more a function of what best meets the needs of the population and the perspective of the sponsoring organization.

Some good quotes:

"We are moving away from Dr. Marcus Welby to Dr. Marcia Wellbyte."

"Some would have you think transparency means placing that black box inside a lucite container."

"The plural of data is not information."

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