Disease Management Programs in the Geriatric Setting: Practical Considerations
Kenneth J. Steinman
Michael A. Steinman
Theodore I. Steinman
As people live longer, chronic illness care will consume an ever-larger part of a nation's financial resources. With the Disease management is built on a model of integrated care, with each member of the healthcare team working together toward a common set of objectives. The ultimate goal is to keep the patient functioning well in an outpatient setting, thus avoiding the high debility and costs associated with hospitalization and institutionalization. Creating such a system requires a substantial investment in infrastructure. The concept of Changing physician behavior to accept the tenets of disease management requires education in advance of launching such a program. There must be healthcare team buy-in for a program to achieve success. Personnel requirements include senior nurses, social workers, physical therapists and nutritionists, supported by a sophisticated information technology system. Components of an information technology system must allow for adequate data collection and subsequent generation of reports. Continuous quality improvement will occur only if such a system is in place. While the average chronologic age of the patient with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is almost 62 years, the physiologic age is much older. Therefore, ESRD serves as a model for chronic illness that affects a geriatric population and the benefits achieved by a disease management approach to this chronic disease are noted. Disease management improved glycemic control in the ESRD patient with diabetes mellitus by establishing a protocol for frequency of measurement of glycosylated hemoglobin (HgbA1c). For this population at risk, a decreased hospitalization rate for diabetic complications resulted from this initiative. Also, a vascular access initiative in the described ESRD disease management program resulted in an increase in the creation of arterio-venous fistulas and a decrease in the placement of tunneled-cuff catheters. Fistula creation was associated with less infections and access thrombosis compared with catheter use for access. QOL improved for these patients with ESRD because of decreased hospitalization rate for access-related issues. Significant cost savings were achieved because of fewer hospital admissions and a decrease in the number of bed days per year. The lessons learned from the ESRD model can help in developing future disease management programs for the geriatric population.
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