UTHSCT lung specialist contributed to new Institute of Medicine report on how to help people live well despite chronic disease
February 5, 2012
“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.
For 65 years, UT Health Northeast has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, and primary care. Its annual budget of $150 million represents a major economic impact of over $350 million for Northeast Texas. Since 2004, scientists in the Biomedical Research Center have been awarded more than $122 million research dollars. As the university medical center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities across the state and beyond. It also sponsors the residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview. For more information, visit www.uthealth.org.