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AMA, White House Boost Chronic Disease Management Efforts

By Jennifer Bresnick

- As the White House Conference on Aging gets underway, the American Medical Association (AMA) is helping to promote major efforts to improve chronic disease management for the millions of Americans living with costly conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. 

Chronic disease management and the AMA

After announcing a diabetes management and prevention collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March, the AMA is hoping to promote its chronic disease management toolkits to providers who care for the large numbers of patients who may be unaware that they are at risk for – or already living with – long-term diseases.

“As part of the AMA's long-standing commitment to improving the health of the nation, we continue to focus our efforts on identifying the best ways to prevent the chronic diseases that have the biggest impact on public health and put a fiscal strain on our health care system,” said AMA President-elect Andrew W. Gurman, MD, in a press release

“Through partnerships forged over the past two years, the AMA is working to prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease – two of the country’s leading causes of disability and death, particularly among older Americans – to ensure patients live richer and fuller lives. We’ve begun our efforts by focusing on the precursors to these diseases, prediabetes and high blood pressure.”

Gurman’s remarks coincide with today’s meeting of the White House Conference on Aging, which will address many of the common concerns of elderly Americans, including the impact of dementia and other age-related diseases on quality of life and population health management.  In addition to providing support for caregivers of elderly patients and more resources for helping retirees stay in their homes for longer, the White House is unveiling several programs intended to support physical activity and ongoing wellness for elderly patients.

The AMA, in conjunction with CMS and a number of patient advocacy groups, will also help to provide information on preventative care and chronic disease management to Medicare patients and their families.  Thirty-five million dollars in grants and awards, provided by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration, will be used to support education around the need to expand the healthcare workforce to meet the growing needs of a rapidly aging patient population.

“We are pleased to be participating in the White House Conference on Aging and applaud the Administration for taking a step in the right direction to bring more attention to the importance of disease prevention, especially given that more adults than ever before are now living with multiple chronic conditions,” Gurman said.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes take an enormous economic toll on the healthcare industry, compounded by the fact that millions of patients living with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes are not even aware of the seriousness of their conditions.  Nearly 90 percent of the 86 million patients living with prediabetes are unaware of their status, Gurman said, echoing concerns voiced by the CDC in 2014 that nearly a third of patients with fully-developed type 2 diabetes have not received a diagnosis and are not in treatment.

“Additionally, the AMA is working to help the 30 million U.S. adults who have high blood pressure and a source of health care and yet do not have their blood pressure under control. Specifically, the AMA partnered with Johns Hopkins Medicine and ten physician practices in Illinois and Maryland to develop tools and resources that are being used by physicians and care teams throughout the country to help patients improve blood pressure control and reduce their risk for heart attack, stroke or death. These efforts will also help alleviate the $51 billion in annual national health care costs associated with high blood pressure.”

The AMA has developed a comprehensive hypertension management toolkit for providers through its “Measure, Act, Partner” (MAP) program.  The tools encourage regular screenings, preventative care, and patient engagement to ensure appropriate levels of self-management.  These resources also dovetail with the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative, which hopes to drastically decrease the number of heart attacks and strokes over the next few years.

More information on the White House Conference for Aging, including a live stream of the event, is available by clicking here.

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