CMS dashboard aims to boost care for chronic condition sufferers

Looking to improve care for patients suffering from multiple chronic diseases, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week launched an online dashboard that gives researchers easy access to data on Medicare patients with more than one chronic condition. More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries fall into that category, according to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, who added that that number will only rise as the population ages.

The dashboard, she said, will help to achieve goals set by the Affordable Care Act. It will be part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Initiative on Multiple Chronic Conditions, which originally was established in 2009.

"The healthcare law … promotes better healthcare coordination and management of chronic conditions through analysis of current data," Tavenner said in a statement.

According to CMS, 93 percent of all Medicare spending in 2011--roughly $276 billion--covered beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. A study published last summer by the American Heart Association found that chronic patients often struggle to manage all of their conditions simultaneously. For instance, out of 29,000 patients studied, only 16 percent of patients enrolled at Denver Health Center and 30 percent at Kaiser Permanente Colorado kept up with health regimens to keep diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol under control at the same time.

Howard Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, called the tool "a major step forward" for helping to boost treatment for such patients.

"This web-based tool provides new and critical data that can help us develop better patient-centered approaches to improve health outcomes, lower costs and maximize quality of life," Koh said.

To learn more:
- read the CMS announcement
- here's the dashboard