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Chronic diseases can be managed

Srinivas Bodapati is a primary care physician at Tufts MC Primary Care QuincySix out of 10 Americans live with a chronic disease, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease require lifestyle changes, but these changes shouldn’t be frustrating. Srinivas Bodapati, MD, Primary Care Provider at Tufts Medical Center Primary Care - Woburn, shares how a tailored healthcare plan can promote a better quality of life by empowering patients and their caregivers while they manage chronic disease.

What are the first steps to managing a chronic disease?

The first step is to engage the patient, caregivers and family in an effort to “activate” or empower the patient with tools to manage their health at home with diet, exercise and/or medications. There is a direct correlation between patient activation and adherence to healthy behaviors and medications leading to better health outcomes and health care experiences.

How do you begin to create a plan for a patient?

Before a plan is created, it is important for the patient to understand the disease, how it affects different parts of the body and how it progresses.

From there, I establish what is important to the patient. I have a thorough discussion of the risks, burdens, benefits, and prognosis (functional status, quality of life) with the individual and family. As I create a treatment plan, I try to incorporate patient preferences and values into the decision making in order to create a self-care plan that is tailored to the individual patient’s needs. 

Why is disease management important short and long term for a patient?

In the short term, good disease management avoids treatment complications, decreases emergency room visits and avoids inpatient admissions. In the long term, disease management can help prevent the progression of a disease and other complications. This will lead to a better quality of life and foster functional independence.

How is disease management different than case management?

Caring for individuals with one or more chronic diseases has various levels of complexity. Adopting a disease-focused approach may render care that is fragmented. A case management approach is more suited to these patients because it will facilitate effective communication of the care plan amongst the patient, family and providers.