By Julian Pecquet - 12/14/10 04:30 PM EST
The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday unveiled a new plan calling for increased collaboration between government agencies and the private sector to tackle the growing challenge of people with multiple chronic conditions.
More than a quarter of all Americans suffer from several chronic conditions, according to HHS, such as arthritis, asthma, chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes, heart disease, human immunodeficiency virus infection and hypertension. Treating those patients takes up 66 percent of the nation's healthcare budget, adds HHS.
But the nation's healthcare system is largely set up to deal with one disease or condition at a time, says HHS. That increases the risk of complications such as adverse drug reactions, unnecessary hospitalizations and overall confusion caused by conflicting medical advice.
"Given the number of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions," said Medicare and Medicaid administrator Donald Berwick, "focusing on the integration and coordination of care for this population is critical to achieve better care and health for beneficiaries, and lower costs through greater efficiency and quality."
The new Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions seeks to resolve those issues by "fostering change within the system; providing more information and better tools to help health professionals ― as well as patients ― learn how to better coordinate and manage care; and by facilitating research to improve oversight and care."