Friday, March 25, 2011

Patience and Effective Disease Management Programs

The McKinsey Quarterly recently did its usual fine job, explaining in detail how other countries are running effective disease management programs. McKinsey says a successful disease management program has these common denominators: many participants; simple rules to follow; is patient-focused; has clearly defined measures; and aligned incentives. Sounds doable, right?

And then it got to the kicker.

“Any group thinking of sponsoring a disease management program must also realize that a large program takes years, not months, to get completely off the ground. It took Germany more than six years to fully implement its program for type 2 diabetes.”

Kind of dooms the notion of a successful disease management program happening in this country. Americans are not exactly the most patient of people.

Need proof? In a survey published Jan. 21, 2009, 79% of Americans were “optimistic” about this country’s future under the leadership of its new president, Barack Obama. By July 30, 53% said they didn’t like how Mr. Obama was handling the economy. Four months later, his job approval rating had fallen below 50%.

If we’d gain a little patience and let providers develop some effective disease management programs, can you imagine what the savings to lives and the bottom line would be? Isn’t that worth a little patience?

Maybe if we thought of a disease management program as a bottle of fine wine, aging to a perfect maturity....

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