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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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« Teaching doctors to teach patients about lifestyle | Main | On the blogs: life-threatening or not, vaccine costs, calling RNA labs »

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Patients can manage their own care better, researchers argue

Teaching patients how to monitor and manage their chronic illnesses can not only lower costs but improve quality of care, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT say.

In an essay in this week's Public Library of Science Medicine, Harold J. DeMonaco of MGH and Eric von Hippel of MIT review the medical literature on self-management tools for type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, depression and asthma.

They ask why the methods patients use to take care of their own diabetes -- monitoring blood sugar, injecting insulin, evaluating how well they are doing and adjusting dosage -- can't be expanded to other conditions. In one study they cite, patients with hypertension successfully used home monitors to lower their blood pressure and stay on their medications.

"We propose that the time has come for health systems to support appropriate and appropriately timed shifts from practitioner-based care to patient self-management," they write.

Can this work? Let White Coat Notes know what you think at whitecoat@globe.com

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 10:08 AM
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