If you are a nurse or medical professional interested in the area of disease management, there are a few important premises you need to understand about how disease management works that will help you transition well into this type of role.
Disease management is a specialized area of healthcare where medicinal practice meets policy, prevention, and community awareness. It is a fascinating blend of a number of different skill types and practice areas. Because of this, it’s helpful to know what will be required of you as disease management professional. The following tips will prepare you for what the job will likely entail.
Disease Management and Its Applications in Healthcare
Disease management care can refer to a few different related forms of medical activities. On an individual level, it has to do with helping those who suffer from long-term medical conditions or chronic diseases to experience the highest possible quality of life while keeping costs for said care as economical as possible.
Disease management also operates on a wider scale. It touches on public policy; prevention and education initiatives; and population disease detection and control. It can swing from delivering personal health care to steering public initiatives and decision-makers. No matter where your particular interest lies within the field, here are a few things to keep in mind as you pursue a role in disease management:
Tips for Nurses Entering Disease Management
Education is Everything
The more the general public is made aware of the symptoms and nuances of many chronic diseases and conditions, the better of the entire population becomes and the better equipped it will be to respond correctly and proactively to signs of chronic maladies.
One example of this is Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease can cause a number of significant and lasting effects. It can be devastating in some cases. To manage it effectively and stem its spread, it is important to prioritize factual awareness about the disease not only amongst medical professionals but amongst the general populace. Knowing how Lyme Disease manifests, how it is contracted, and how to avoid it can help anyone decrease their risk of having to deal with the disease for themselves. Part of good disease management is keeping effective education initiatives at the forefront.
Proactive Prevention Efforts Help Everyone
Public health campaigns are a huge part of effective disease management. These might just be educational in nature or could include the delivery of preventative care or analysis. Putting on informative talks in local institutions, offering drive-in or pop-up clinics for populations or in areas that don’t readily avail of healthcare, or launching online campaigns to spread awareness about common chronic diseases or conditions can all be effective ways of contributing to prevention.
When the public is more informed and has access to things like screenings and simple assessments that can flag individuals at risk (or catch early instances of disease), everyone can contribute effectively to disease management.
Feedback Loops Are Critical
An essential part of the process is making sure there is a clearly defined feedback loop in place. This applies to any of the many forms that disease management can take. If you are working with individuals with chronic conditions, tracking the effects of different treatment methods will help inform best practices and help you whittle down treatment needs to the essentials over time.
If you are delivering public health initiatives, taking surveys and measuring performance can help build validated cases for how your work is creating impact. This can make your disease management efforts much more effective.
Collaboration is Key
No one can operate completely independently of anyone else’s input. Involving fellow medical professionals, specialists, and peripheral care providers can help create a more holistic picture of what helps patients most. It will help improve your ability to provide effective care if you know what care a patient is receiving when they visit the dietitian and vice versa.
The more you can create open channels between yourself and other medical professionals who might also be working with the same patients or who also contribute to disease management in your area or location, the better informed and ultimately the more effective your work will be.
Equip Patients to Self-Manage
A vital part of the disease management ecosystem is to train your patients to contribute to their wellness process. Helping patients better understand their condition, make decisions about their care plan, and take their health into their own hands can be one of the most effective ways to propel disease management.
Effective Disease Management Lowers Costs
As a disease management professional, one of your primary aims is to lessen costs and make ongoing management for your patients or populations as cost-effective and efficient as possible. The annual costs incurred in America by chronic health conditions have skyrocketed in recent years, reaching hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly healthcare costs and resulting in losses in workplace productivity. Sadly, many of these health conditions are, at least in part, preventable.
Part of disease management includes innovative solutions for lessening the financial burden of caring for those with chronic conditions or long-term diseases in order to lessen this load on our healthcare industry.
Don’t Lose the Person in the System
Finally, though it is vitally important for disease management professionals to keep one eye on the major themes and trends that affect the system as a whole, it is equally important to remember that the individuals you serve or for whom you provide care are human beings. They have lives, hopes, dreams, families, fears, and uniqueness.
As a disease management professional, it’s important to remember that treating individuals with humanity and dignity is just as important as making savvy decisions for the system at large. Without effectively serving the individual, it’s very difficult for systemic or institutional changes to make up for that disparity.
As you consider or pursue a career in disease management, these tips will help you better understand the climate and ethos of the role. Understanding how the field of disease management differs from other areas of healthcare provision can help you make a swift and effective transition from other types of nursing roles.