The diagnosis of any chronic illness can be scary. But Dr. Daniel Chandler of Tufts Medical Center reassures patients that “it is not necessarily bad news – it is a condition that existed prior to my diagnosis – but that I am there to help [patients] manage it and work through it.” To help our patients understand how to cope with the diagnosis of a chronic illness, Dr. Chandler has answered some of our biggest questions.
Q: How can patients tell they have a chronic illness? Who diagnoses them in most cases?
A: Patients can be diagnosed with any chronic illness through a variety of ways, but often it is through their primary care doctor – either by me or by a previous physician who then transfers them into my care. So once I diagnose them with any chronic illness, the next step is to treat that illness with any of their caregivers and other specialists who need to be involved.
Q: What are some of the best ways for patients to manage their illness?
A: I encourage all of my patients to try to take control of their illness. I work with patients, their family members [and] their caregivers to empower them to be more knowledgeable about their disease… and how best to manage it on their own. The most important things are diet and exercise.
Q: What role should your primary care doctor play in the management of chronic illness?
A: I tell patients with any chronic illness to frequently visit or contact their primary care doctor and involve them in their care from start to finish. Part of the management of chronic illness is to have several specialists… involved in the care that you might receive and the primary care doctor’s job is to help coordinate some of that for the patient.
Q: What qualities make a primary care physician effective at helping patients to manage their chronic illness?
A: Some of the qualities that it takes to be a very effective primary care doctors are those that allow me to reach a patient wherever they may be, emotionally and physically, and try to teach them as much as I can about some of the illnesses that they might be suffering from. Being in primary care, one of the things that I like the most is the long-term relationship that I establish with my patients. S I think that those can be very rewarding and some of those extra minutes you take in clinic to establish that relationship can really set the tone for the years ahead.
Q: What sets Tufts Medical Center apart from other hospitals as a place to get care for chronic illness?
A: Some of the advantages of being here at Tufts Medical Center are the access that I have to some of the specialists, particularly those involved with chronic illness management. They communicate with me and I am able to communicate with my patients, their caregivers and families to help manage things a little more efficiently that they would be elsewhere.