This is a question that many people with chronic diseases often ask. Before we try and answer the question, it is important to first make sure that we are all talking the same language.
What is a chronic disease?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, chronic diseases are long lasting health conditions that can have an effect on a person’s overall health status and quality of life. The AIHW reports on a number of conditions including arthritis, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and mental health conditions.
What is the incidence of chronic disease in Australia?
In 2014-15, more than 11 million or 50% of Australians reported having at least one chronic condition that required intervention. This rate was higher for people aged 65 and over (87%) compared with people aged 0–44 (35%) and for women (52%) compared with men (48%). Increased rates of chronic disease are also seen in people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and for people living in regional areas. Overall, 1 in 4 (23%) Australians—5.3 million people—had 2 or more of the 8 selected chronic diseases.
What does this mean?
Many of the chronic diseases are classified as lifestyle diseases which means that their development is closely correlated to the lifestyle of the person with the condition. For example, it is well documented that smoking contributes to the development of heart disease, airways disease and many cancers. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle, coupled with poor diet is also known to contribute to the development of heart disease and diabetes.
Once a person has been diagnosed with a chronic disease, there are a number of things they should do to improve their overall health and to reduce the impact of the chronic disease over the longer term. Importantly, it has been well documented that people who know what is happening with their health are more likely to comply with treatment regimes and therefore be healthier overall than people who are passive in managing their condition. People who invest time in understanding how their disease affects them and what they need to do to achieve good control of the various symptoms of their condition are more likely to have a better quality of life and in the long term have reduced complications from the disease.
Self-management of chronic disease has been promoted as the most efficient and effective way of dealing with both the short and long-term effects of a condition, with improved quality of life and reduced burden of disease well documented outcomes.
However, while many of the self-management programs available to people with chronic disease have been well evaluated as to their effectiveness, it is also clear that unless the person with the condition receives well timed and relevant support, their commitment to their treatment regime reduces over time.
In a study finalised in 2016, the CSIRO analysed the effectiveness of introducing at home monitoring of people with a variety of chronic diseases. Specifically, the people included in the study were people who had been frequently admitted to hospital. The outcomes of the study were conclusive and included:
How can GRIT Health help?
It has been well documented internationally that the use of monitoring systems is effective at improved management of chronic diseases and their associated complications. The study cited above provided an Australian example of how such services can benefit both consumers (people with a chronic disease) and the system.
GRIT Health is a health monitoring service that has been developed using the best available technology, acknowledging the importance of people with chronic diseases being in control of their health and the way in which they manage their health. Importantly, GRIT Health uses a combination of technology and the input of the person’s treating medical team to create a personalised GRIT Health plan. This plan is monitored by a team of highly skilled GRIT Health Coordinators who are always at the end of the phone and who will work closely with the consumer to make sure they stay on track with their plan and that if they become unwell, intervention is timely. The best thing about the GRIT Health system is its ability to provide real time reports to both the consumer and health professionals. For the consumer, this means they have access to their health information all the time, not just when they visit their GP or health professional. For the treating health team, they have real time access to the health information of the consumer, collated and reported longitudinally. Such access is unprecedented in Australian health care systems and should lead to improved clinical decision making and improved health of the consumer.
If you or someone you know has a chronic disease, then you really should consider GRIT Health if you want to improve the control you have over this condition. For a very low monthly fee, the team at GRIT Health will work with you to provide a highly personalised health plan and ongoing support. There are no lock in contracts and signing up is as easy as visiting the website or calling on 1300 438 474.