Assessing the Barriers to Engaging Challenging Populations in Disease Management Programs: The Medicaid Experience
Dylan H. Roby
Gerald F. Kominski
Disease management has gained popularity as a way to improve health status and control of chronic illness through the use of risk stratification, targeted nurse outreach, telephonic nurse advice, and evidence-based guidelines in managing illness. Disease management programs have been successfully implemented by commercial insurers and managed care plans, as well as in Medicare and state Medicaid programs. Although evidence regarding cost savings is inconsistent, it appears that disease management programs do impact health status and quality of care, and improve self-management among the chronically ill. Disease management programs can be customized to meet the needs of vulnerable subpopulations. This article explores the barriers to dealing with chronic illness and other factors faced by disease management programs for Medicaid populations. Barriers to participation and success in disease management for Medicaid beneficiaries are apparent due to lack of access to translation and interpretation services; difficulty with community outreach; achieving buy in from providers and beneficiaries; problems with housing; difficulties accessing primary and specialty care; problems with the availability of pharmacy, durable medical equipment, and other support services; as well as difficulties with Medicaid eligibility and In order to create a successful disease management program that positively impacts health status, utilization, and cost, it is necessary to consider all of these barriers when designing an intervention for Medicaid beneficiaries. Some of the innovative ways to handle the difficulties of dealing with Medicaid or other low-income populations with special healthcare needs include expanded interpretation and translation activities, extensive community outreach to patients and safety net providers such as clinics and public hospitals, providing support services related to non-medical problems experienced by enrollees, providing understandable written and verbal instructions and training related to health education and medication adherence, as well as efforts to track and maintain contact with eligible and enrolled individuals. Disease management programs can be successful in saving money and improving health in Medicaid populations. However, they must be carefully designed with the specific state Medicaid program and should target the needs of the state DOI: 10.2165/0115677-200816060-00007
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