Some patients – and doctors – call it the ODTAA syndrome. That’s short for One Damn Thing after Another. Case in point? The incidence of chronic disease.
About 80 per cent of people in Ontario who are over 45 have at least one chronic disease like Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, cancer or mental health issues. About 70 per cent of these patients go on to develop a second chronic disease. That’s at least in part because risk factors are common to many chronic diseases. Smoking, for example, is a risk factor in COPD, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.
These slow-developing but long-lasting conditions can be controlled but not cured. If a chronic condition is not managed well or goes untreated, individuals are at greater risk for deteriorating health and the development of other chronic conditions.
The good news is that there is a way to reduce the impact of a chronic disease on quality of life and potentially prevent the development of another.
“The key to effective chronic disease management is a focus on self-management,” according to Laurie Poole, vice president of telemedicine solutions at the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). “Health care should focus on supporting individuals to take charge of their own health,” she adds.
Typically, she says, dealing with a chronic condition requires lifestyle and behaviour changes. OTN Telehomecare, for example, a free remote home monitoring program, includes weekly health coaching by phone which addresses topics like exercise and diet, and provides the motivation needed to encourage the patient to live their best life possible.
Managing chronic disease also requires ongoing, supportive and well-coordinated care. Telehomecare provides patients with simple technology to send their vital statistics to a nurse or respiratory therapist who monitors them daily. The clinician regularly communicates the information to the patient’s doctor.
OTN Telehomecare is available in many parts of Ontario. For more information, call 1.855.991.8191 or go to www.ontariotelehomecare.ca.