Initiative Aims to Improve Chronic Disease Management Among Minorities

The Connected Care initiative will provide educational resources for providers and patients.

A new initiative is launching to address unmet needs in the treatment of minorities with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) and the Federal office or Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA) recently partnered to improve chronic disease management.

Together, the agencies introduced Connected Care, which provides education to raise awareness about chronic care management services that are available for Medicare beneficiaries, according to a press release. The program also provides support for healthcare providers who wish to implement chronic care management initiatives.

Connected Care is an effort introduced in fee-for-service Medicare that focuses on racial and ethnic minorities and individuals living in rural areas, since these populations are more likely to develop chronic diseases.

Currently, two-thirds of beneficiaries have 2 or more chronic diseases, and one-third have 4 or more chronic conditions, according to the CMS. These patients drive a large portion of Medicare spending due to increased use of healthcare resources, including hospital and primary care visits.

Physicians and other healthcare professionals may already be providing chronic care management to these patients in person or through non face-to-face services, such as reviewing test results or coordinating care with other providers, according to the release.

However, providers may be unaware of separate payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, and may not be receiving additional payments for their services under Part B, the CMS reported.

“This important initiative builds on our efforts to help providers care for patients with multiple chronic conditions. We are excited to be working with the Health Resources and Services Administration to reach vulnerable populations,” said Cara James, PhD, director of the CMS OMH.

As a part of the education initiative, new resources are available for patient and provider education. Healthcare professionals will now have access to detailed information regarding chronic care management and how to best implement it. They will also be able to download and use activities to get involved with the Connected Care initiative, according to the press release. Patient education resources, such as posters and postcards, will also be available at no cost.

Through chronic care management services, patients with chronic diseases can receive the coordinated care they need to meet their goals, the CMS reported.

“We are thrilled to be joining CMS to educate health care professionals and patients about the value of chronic care management with the goal of improving overall patient care for millions of Americans and reducing overall health care costs,” said Tom Morris, associate administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration.