Professor Receives Grant for Chronic Illness Care Plan

Posted: June 28, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Mark Meiners
Mark Meiners

Mark Meiners, Mason professor of health policy in the College of Health and Human Services, hopes to see his recently received grant of more than a half-million dollars go a long way in the field of health care.

Meiners will use the $535,000 grant to develop a coordinated, low-cost team approach to chronic illness care with the San Diego Long-Term Care Integration Project and the University of California, San Diego.

The program, Team San Diego, will emphasize team-based care in a health care system that is increasingly fragmented and built to deliver acute care. If the program proves successful in San Diego, the research may be used to help develop programs nationwide.

The unique aspect of the program is the network of caretakers — often consisting of home health nurses, social workers, pharmacists and social service providers — for people with chronic illnesses. The network keeps the patient’s primary care physician informed about additional treatment or services provided by other health care entities.

“By building a network or community of caregivers for people needing chronic care management, we are essentially creating a new health care philosophy,” says Meiners.

“The information gained from this project will allow us to better understand chronic care management, create an informed team of health care providers and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

To improve the current communication channels, the care networks will communicate electronically about comprehensive and coordinated health and social programs for individuals with complex needs. These “after hours” services include all of the activity and services needed to implement a patient’s care once he or she leaves the primary care physician’s office, perhaps including arranging for personal care assistance or home-delivered meals.

The project, funded by the California Endowment and the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, builds on an earlier planning grant awarded to Meiners that found physicians and community providers cited lack of coordination of care across settings as a major obstacle to optimum outcomes for vulnerable populations.

In addition, physicians pointed to difficulty providing quality care with greater demands for paperwork and lower levels of reimbursement, as well as the inability to follow their patients’ behavior around the clock. Team San Diego hopes to make inroads in alleviating these issues.

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