The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its new Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions, a private-public sector collaboration to coordinate responses to these types of health care challenges. Currently, the health care system is largely designed to treat one disease or condition at a time, but many Americans have more than one—and often several—chronic conditions. As the number of chronic conditions a patient has increases, so, too, do the risks of complications, including adverse drug events, unnecessary hospitalizations, and confusion caused by conflicting medical advice.

More than one quarter of all Americans—and two out of three older Americans—have multiple chronic conditions, and treatment for these individuals accounts for 66% of the country’s health care budget. These numbers are expected to rise as the number of older Americans increases.

The new strategic framework—coordinated by HHS and involving input from agencies within the department and multiple private sector stakeholders—expects to reduce the risks of complications and improve the overall health status of individuals with multiple chronic conditions by fostering change within the system; providing more information and better tools to help health professionals—as well as patients—learn how to better coordinate and manage care; and by facilitating research to improve oversight and care.

The management of multiple chronic conditions has major cost implications for both the country and individuals. Increased spending on chronic diseases is a key factor driving the overall growth in spending in the Medicare program. And individuals with multiple chronic conditions also face increased out-of-pocket costs for their care, including higher costs for prescriptions and support services.

“Give the number of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions, focusing on the integration and coordination of care for this population is critical to achieve better care and health for beneficiaries, and lower costs through greater efficiency and quality,” said Donald Berwick, MD, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services