Monitoring as a ‘checkup’ for a chronic illness
January 7, 2015 by Rebecca Flood

Historically addiction treatment has followed an acute model of care. Within the past five years, the evolution of research and understanding of substance use disorders has changed for this chronic illness. We as a profession have been transforming treatment services to meet the needs of a chronic illness.

It is routine to have checkups for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. We take care to monitor any further developments or complications of a diagnosis such as the aforementioned. Most of the checkups that are required are done by personal choice of the person diagnosed with the disease.

Generally, patients who are not willing to engage in routine checkups suffer negative consequences to their health. They may experience physical deterioration as a result of not closely monitoring or following healthy diets, medications or exercise as routine ways of self-care.

Monitoring is a way to periodically measure the health of an individual who is impacted by a chronic illness. It assists the practitioner in management and allows them to make clinical or medical suggestions to both the patient and their loved ones.

The World Health Organization (WHO) studies chronic disease management and remote patient monitoring and the impact that it has on longevity of life between the United States and Europe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) engages in surveillance activities of chronic illnesses to help better understand behavioral risks and preventative care of chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

As of 2012 about half of all adults (117 million people) have one or more chronic conditions. One in four adults have two or more chronic health conditions and seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Topping the list are heart disease and cancer. Obesity is also considered a chronic condition and a serious health disease in the United States.

Many organizations over the years have developed monitoring systems for professionals such as doctors, pilots, and lawyers who served as the initial pioneers to have their substance use disorders monitored over time. The outcomes of those services and programs have provided promising data. Implementing these programs universally to all who suffer from this disease, whether through regular urinalysis or laboratory testing, can help a practitioner determine what the ongoing best course of treatment for that individual might be. By further monitoring a patient’s routine activities such as eating, exercise, engagement in ongoing therapy, their participation in self help, spiritual growth, and healthy interactions, we can determine the depth of one’s wellness on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

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