• Program to Help People Live Well with Chronic Conditions Gains Recognition from Federal Health Agency

    Bassett Medical Center

    August 7, 2018

    A Bassett Medical Center program to help patients with chronic conditions live an improved quality of life by teaching them how to better self-manage their health issue has been recognized at the federal level for its success. The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) recently presented Bassett with its Evidence-Based Model Award for the strategic evaluation and implementation of solutions that help improve health outcomes for patients struggling with chronic conditions.

    Bassett Medical Center initiated the chronic disease self-management program through its network of primary care health centers last year. Called “Living Well”, the program consists of a series of educational workshops designed to enhance the patient’s ability to self-manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, depression, anxiety, heart conditions and arthritis.

    David Strogatz, PhD, a research scientist and director of the Bassett Research Institute’s Center for Rural Community Health, explains, “Chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lower respiratory disease have become more prevalent in rural regions of the United States. To promote population health, it is essential to develop and implement strategies not only for primary prevention but also for improving patients’ abilities to manage these conditions in order to prevent complications and maintain a better quality of life.”

    Since its inception, the Living Well program has helped nearly 300 patients. Now, thanks to a $600,000 Health Resources and Services Administration grant to Bassett last month, the program is being expanded to include workshops for patients suffering from chronic pain.

    Martha Sunkenberg, senior director of strategic initiatives for the Bassett Medical Group, says, “It is a significant accomplishment to be selected for this award from our peers across the country who are working in similar rural settings on quality improvement initiatives. Since the program was initiated, the data we’ve compiled shows patients feel less stress about living with their chronic conditions, less isolated in their challenges to manage their chronic condition, and patients with diabetes have lower blood sugar levels as a result of participation in the Living Well peer group workshops.

    “It has taken a lot of work on the part of many people across various departments to accomplish what we have to date,” continues Sunkenberg. “The FORHP award validates our efforts and shows we are helping our patients improve their lives and keeping our communities healthier.”

    Projects nominated for the FORHP awards were required to demonstrate tangible results, such as outcomes, that were clearly linked to achievement of quality improvement. This information was derived from project reporting and updates shared with FORHP. Among Bassett patients with diabetes who completed the first cycle of the Living Well diabetes self-management program, there has already been a 31 percent reduction in the percentage who have an elevated A1C level. The A1C test measures a person’s average blood glucose (sugar), which is particularly important to the management of diabetes and lowering the risk of developing complications such as eye, heart and kidney disease.