Can Technology Stop the Pain and Cost of Chronic Disease?

Posted by Kassy Perry

Panelists explore how technology can play a role in overall patient health

SAN JOSE—The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) hosted a special forum today focused on the challenges chronic, non-communicable disease present to California and the United States. The forum, “Chronic Disease: A Common Sense Approach to Solving Complex Health Issues,” included business, health care and public policy experts discussing the significance of these issues, how technology can influence patient outcomes and ways to reduce rising health care costs. The discussion also included a motivational health talk by Dr. Travis Stork, a healthy lifestyle author, emergency room physician and host of the popular television show, “The Doctors.”

“It is crucial to have an ongoing conversation about the key health care issues affecting millions of Americans. Chronic, non-communicable disease costs Americans more than 82 percent of what we spend on health care and more than 99 percent of what we spend on Medicare. Many simple changes can be made to combat these challenges before the consequences erode the overall health of Americans, further challenge our U.S. health care system and explode the budget deficit,” said Kenneth Thorpe, PhD., chairman of the PFCD.

This discussion comes at a critical time as Congress and the Obama Administration race against the clock to address sequestration and the impending fiscal cliff. Deadlines for implementation of the Affordable Care Act are also just around the corner. The experts in the forum provided their unique perspectives on the current impacts of chronic disease and future solutions going forward.

“Addressing the challenges presented by chronic disease requires a commitment from leaders from all levels of government and stakeholders from all ends of the spectrum. The issues at stake are not only the future health and treatment for Americans, but also our nation’s fiscal well-being,” continued Dr. Thorpe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes to name a few of the top killers—are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

These costs resulting from chronic disease accumulate through limitations in daily activities, loss in productivity and days of work. This presents a costly and life threatening trend that CDC officials note could be prevented through simple changes in lifestyle.

While lifestyle changes can impact risk factors, recent technology changes have already had an impact on the health care delivery system. Experts point out that one chronic disease can usually lead to subsequent chronic diseases. Keeping record of these illnesses and treatments is top priority, but can create other risks, such as patient data breaches. With this in mind, the panel also discussed digital data security and the importance of keeping patient information safe through the recycling of electronic waste responsibly.

“The rising number of patients with at least one chronic disease has heightened the need for interest in prevention and its potential role in helping control costs,” said Dr. Thorpe. “Today’s discussion highlighted the barriers patients and providers face in managing complex illnesses, but also give a hopeful look into what resources and programs can help facilitate healthy choices, by making them both accessible and affordable for all.”

The full list of speakers includes:

Kenneth Thorpe, PhD, Chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Professor and Chair, Robert W.
Woodruff Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor, Wired Magazine

Dr. Travis Stork, Healthy Lifestyle Author, Emergency Room Physician and Host, “The Doctors”

Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief, Health Affairs

Dr. Kent Bradley, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Safeway

Steve Skurnac, President, Sims Recycling Solutions

Dr. Julie Andersen, Professor and Researcher, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Dr. John Farquhar, MD, Professor of Medicine and Health Research and Policy, Founder and Senior Faculty Member, Stanford Prevention Research Center

Sandra Perez, Director, California Office of the Patient Advocate

Micah Weinberg, Senior Policy Advisor, Bay Area Council

About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is a national coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.

For more information on PFCD, visit

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