Chronic disease requires a high level of coordination by the primary care physician, working with multiple specialty providers, labs, and healthcare facilities to ensure the patient’s care is provided efficiently and effectively, without duplication or error. To help the process move forward smoothly and to help the patient gain a clearer understanding of the healthcare plan provided by these multiple providers, the primary care physician may involve the services of a care manager.
A research study recently published in Journal of Primary Care & Community Health, found that care managers had a significant impact on the diabetic and obese patients of primary care practices. According to the research report, about half of Americans have at least one chronic illness. It has also been found that patients with chronic conditions improve their outcomes when they “follow recommended treatment regimens, obtain relevant tests for monitoring of their disease(s), perform self-management activities, and follow a healthy lifestyle.”
Care managers working at primary care practices can help patients with these tasks. The Journal report states that care management is typically “provided by nurses, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, or others” and “can be delivered via telephone or other means, although face-to-face in-practice interaction is almost often included.” Care managers play a role in patient’s chronic disease management, care coordination, and self-management support.”
The research showed that the diabetic patients generally improved their A1c control and the obese patients were able to lose weight, when they worked with a primary care practice’s care manager. Among the patients at the ten primary care practice studied, there was a “a 12% relative increase in the proportion of patients meeting the clinical target of A1c <7% (95% CI, 3%-20%), and 26% of obese nondiabetic patients in chronic care management practices lost 5% or more of their body weight as compared with 10% of comparison patients.”