HHS Broadly Addressing Multiple Chronic Diseases

The federal agency's new Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions outlines a public/private collaboration to address the problem. Treating these people costs 66 percent of U.S. health care spending, according to HHS.

A new Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines a public/private collaboration to address this growing problem, according to HHS, which says treating people with multiple chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension costs 66 percent of U.S. health care spending.

HHS said more than 25 percent of all Americans and two-thirds of older Americans have multiple chronic conditions, and both numbers will increases as the number of older Americans rises. Treatment costs are high because as a patient's number of chronic conditions increases, "so, too, do the risks of complications, including adverse drug events, unnecessary hospitalizations and confusion caused by conflicting medical advice," according to HHS.

The new strategic framework was coordinated by HHS, which obtained input from its own agencies and the private sector. The goal is reducing the risks of complications and improving overall health of individuals with multiple chronic conditions by fostering change within the system, providing more information and better tools to help health professionals and patients better coordinate and manage care, and facilitating research to improve oversight and care. "Individuals with multiple chronic conditions deserve a system that works for them," said Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh, M.D., MPH. "This new framework provides an important roadmap to help us improve the health status of every American with chronic health conditions."

"We need to learn rapidly how to provide high quality, safe care to individuals with multiple chronic conditions," said the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's director, Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "AHRQ's investments assess alternative strategies for prevention and management of chronic illness, including behavioral conditions, in persons with varying combinations of chronic illnesses," she added.

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