5 ways IT can manage chronic diseases

By Michelle McNickle
12:26 PM
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When it comes to costly care, those with chronic diseases tend to take the cake. But, in recent years, studies have shown IT can help manage these diseases, all while cutting down costs and improving quality. 

We asked Fred Pennic, senior advisor with Aspen Advisors and author of the blog Healthcare IT Consultant, to show us some of the ways IT is currently helping manage chronic diseases: 

1. Patient monitoring tools/medical devices. According to Pennic, medical devices that offer patient monitoring tools help patients manage their own chronic diseases, such as diabetes, weight management and more. “As time progresses, more medical devices will be created to combat the demand of self-monitoring tools, which will allow patients the freedom to manage their chronic diseases,” he added. Not to mention, studies have proven patient-friendly devices positively impact patient acceptance, dosage compliance and health outcomes. In fact, patients are willing to pay more for ease of use, and they’re making informed decisions when it comes to tools and devices already on the market. 

2. Mobile applications. Mobile apps have become a mainstay not just for professionals, but also for patients. They're "important tools that allow patients to simplify their disease management,” said Pennic. “With mobile apps and widgets, patients can access a variety of information within an arm’s reach.” Pennic added that mobile apps such as My Asthma Tracker, GI Monitor, various blood pressure trackers and OnTrack Diabetes provide a myriad of tools to help patients monitor their disease on their smartphone. 

3. Clinical decision support systems. “Clinical decision support systems help providers with customized order entry forms, reminders, and alerts that aid with interpreting clinical results, prescribe medications, etc.,” said Pennic. But, most importantly, clinical decision support systems can provide support at various stages in the care process, such as preventive care all the way through the diagnosis and the monitoring of chronic diseases. “[They] help ensure accurate diagnoses, so physicians can manage their patient’s chronic diseases more efficiently,” Pennic added. 

4. Health information exchanges/patient portals. Pennic said health information exchanges provide professionals with the interoperability of sharing health information across multiple organizations. “And this provides patients with more efficient care, which improves the management of chronic diseases,” he said. “This doesn’t only reduce the redundancy of patient care, but also gives healthcare providers better capabilities to manage chronic diseases.” In addition, health information exchanges can help avoid any gaps in history when a patient visits another organization.

5. Telehealth. Pennic said telehealth is essential, since it provides communication and ensures ongoing education, telenursing, supervising procedures and telemonitoring. “[This] helps patients achieve long-term self management of their chronic diseases,” he said. In addition, telehealth cuts down on costs associated with chronic disease management and lessens the amount of hospital trips for a patient. It also increases patient safety -- particularly following patient discharge. 

Follow Michelle McNickle on Twitter @Michelle_writes