Willoyd, a man in his early thirties, was diagnosed with diabetes. Willoyd, still young and fairly active, decided to learn how to manage his disease and improve his overall health. He began treatment at one of the six clinics that make up Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Center, Inc., a health care organization in St. Louis, Missouri.
Diabetes, asthma, and other chronic conditions affect millions of Americans. But for the most part, health care organizations deal with chronic conditions by simply treating symptoms when they occur and emergencies when they arise with relatively little planning and ongoing monitoring.
Grace Hill is different. It has recently adopted a new model of treatment for people with chronic conditions. The model is being tested at Grace Hill and elsewhere through a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called Improving Chronic Illness Care (ICIC). The aim of ICIC is to transform the health care system from reactive—responding mainly when a person is sick—to proactive, with a focus on keeping a person as healthy as possible.
ICIC has created a roadmap for health care organizations that want to improve how they treat patients with chronic conditions. This model is based on best examples drawn from research and practice. It helps health care organizations like Grace Hill minimize the gap between the best care and the kind of care that is usually offered.
As part of its new approach to chronic care, Grace Hill offers self-management classes to patients newly diagnosed with diabetes. These classes help patients set goals to manage their disease and improve their overall health. One of Willoyd's goals, for example, was to develop better eating habits by cutting down on the fried foods he consumed almost every day. Members of the Grace Hill diabetic team have been working closely with Willoyd on this goal and have helped him make better food choices.