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Anyone in favor of 'minimally disruptive' healthcare?

August 12, 2009 |  7:00 am

PatientsBesides all the other ills that plague healthcare --things like cost, access to care and medical errors -- healthcare itself is rude and inconvenient, say doctors writing today in the British Medical Journal. They call for a different approach described as "minimally disruptive medicine."

The authors argue that patients with serious chronic illnesses are forced to waste time within an inefficient system, causing them inconvenience, frustration and disruption to their daily lives. That often leads to poor adherence to medical advice, wasted resources and poor outcomes.

Patients with chronic illness make numerous trips to the doctors, lab and pharmacy. They spend time on the telephone with health insurers and office staff, and coordinate their care with all of the various parties. One example listed in the paper is a man with heart failure who had made 54 visits to various doctors and clinics in the last two years - the equivalent of one full day per every two weeks spent on managing his healthcare.

"Chronic disease is the great epidemic of our times, but the strategies we have developed to manage it have created a growing burden for patients," wrote the authors from Newcastle University. "We need to think more about the burdens of treatment."

The solution lies in better coordination of care for people with chronic illness as well as the development of guidelines that will help streamline complex care and minimize hassles. 

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Sean Kelly  /  For The Times

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