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UTHSCT lung specialist contributed to new Institute of Medicine report on how to help people live well despite chronic disease

February 6, 2012

Dr. CoultasDavid Coultas, MD, a nationally known pulmonologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, contributed to a just-released Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that outlines policies to help people live well despite chronic disease.

“Chronic illnesses such as heart and lung diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and depression are a major and growing burden for patients and their families. We need to find ways to help improve the lives of people with chronic conditions. Solutions aren’t going to come from health care alone,” Dr. Coultas said.
The IOM is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public. The Centers for Disease Control and the nonprofit Arthritis Foundation requested the report.

Dr. Coultas, who is vice president for clinical and academic affairs and physician in chief at UTHSCT, was one of 17 members of the IOM committee. The report is titled “Living Well with Chronic Illness: A Call for Public Health Action.”

Besides limiting individuals’ ability to be productive and enjoy life, chronic illnesses also are expensive to treat, making up 75 percent of the $2 trillion that the United States spends on medical care each year, according to the report.

The report’s findings include:

1. Better collaboration among the public health, health care, and non-health communities would lead to more effective prevention and treatment plans for people with chronic diseases.

2. Steps thought to prevent chronic disease, such as quitting smoking and following a healthy diet, need to be studied in people with chronic illnesses to see how effective these steps are;

3. A comprehensive system that can monitor the health of people living with chronic illnesses will be complex and will have to include many health and quality of life measures.

Instead of focusing on a specific set of illnesses, the committee identified nine examples of conditions that share common factors and which have big impacts on the nation’s health and economy. They are arthritis, cancer survivorship, chronic pain, dementia, depression, type 2 diabetes, posttraumatic disabling conditions, schizophrenia, and vision and hearing loss.

View the IOM report.

For more than 60 years, UT Health Northeast has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UT Health Northeast’s annual operating budget of $138.8 million represents a major economic impact of over $347 million for the Northeast Texas region. Since 2002, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research have been awarded more than $120 million in research dollars. As the academic health science center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond. UT Health Northeast is also the program sponsor of the residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.

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