April 16, 2012

IF YOU THINK YOU'RE HEALTHY YOU ARE:

The Simple Idea That Is Transforming Health Care: A focus on quality of life helps medical providers see the big picture--and makes for healthier, happier patients (LAURA LANDRO, 4/14/12, WSJ)

A very simple question is changing the delivery of medical care:

How is your health affecting your quality of life?

For decades, numbers drove the treatment of diseases like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Public-health officials focused on reducing mortality rates and hitting targets like blood-sugar levels for people with diabetes or cholesterol levels for those with heart disease.

Doctors, of course, are still monitoring such numbers. But now health-care providers are also adding a whole different, more subjective measure--how people feel about their condition and overall well-being. They're pushing for programs where nurses or trained counselors meet with people and ask personal questions like: Is your condition inhibiting your life? Is it making you less happy? Does it make it hard to cope day to day? Then the counselors offer advice about managing those problems and follow up regularly.

The logic is simple. People are more likely to manage their condition properly when they have more accessible, personal goals, like being able to do more at work or keep up with their kids, instead of focusing only on comparatively abstract targets like blood-sugar levels. And that, in turn, leads to much better health. Numerous studies show that when people have a higher sense of well-being, they have fewer hospitalizations and emergency-room visits, miss fewer days of work and use less medication. They're also more productive at work and more engaged in the community.

Posted by at April 16, 2012 6:31 AM
  

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