Focus On Primary, Secondary Prevention Of Chronic Diseases Needed
A study released this week showing that a growing number of Americans are suffering from multiple chronic diseases shines a much-needed spotlight on the need to shift the U.S. health care system to one that focuses on primary and secondary prevention, according to U.S. Preventive Medicine, the leader in disease prevention.
The study, conducted by Social & Scientific Systems Inc., found that 44 percent of Americans in 2005 had at least one chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and others, compared to 41 percent in 1996. But the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses rose even more sharply - from 7 percent in 1996 to 13 percent in 2005.
"The fact that we are seeing a growing number of individuals dealing with multiple chronic diseases is alarming to say the least," said Christopher Fey, Chairman and CEO of U.S. Preventive Medicine. "This study is the latest piece of evidence that demonstrates the need for President-elect Obama and his health care team to push full steam ahead with their goal to make prevention an integral part of helping to solve the nation's health care woes."
Dan Tillotson, CEO of the company's ground-breaking product The Prevention Plan adds, "It is important to employ both primary and secondary prevention strategies to make a meaningful impact on the health care system." Primary prevention involves identifying a person's risk for future disease and helping them take steps to lower those risks. Secondary prevention, often referred to as disease management, includes helping people make lifestyle improvements and follow appropriate treatment plans that will improve and in some cases even reverse the disease, while lowering the risks for other co-morbid conditions.
Most studies indicate that, depending on the condition, less than half of the people diagnosed with a disease follow their prescribed treatment plan. According to Tillotson, "The Prevention Plan provides registered nurse advocates that offer education and one-on-one support to these individuals to ensure they are following doctor's orders and taking personal responsibility for their health. We've proven this model is effective in improving compliance and key health indicators, while lowering overall health care costs."
"Clearly, our health care system can't continue along the same path and hope for better results in terms of controlling costs and having healthier Americans. Something needs to change and the fact that so many of our health care leaders are now talking about prevention as part of the cure is very encouraging," said Fey.