Chronic care crossroads: AAN CEO hopes to swing policy pendulum in favor of prevention

September 1, 2007

Pat Ford-Roegner, MSW, RN, FAAN, CEO of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), seems a natural fit for her latest appointment as a member of the new Washington, D.C.-based Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) Advisory Board. The board, led by Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS, former U.S. Surgeon General, is comprised of 40 high-profile CEOs and presidents from the public and private sector.

Ford-Roegner, known for advocating "common sense healthcare," believes leadership must unite to address the complexities of chronic disease for future prevention. She says the goal is for this partnership to make chronic-disease prevention a focal issue in the 2008 presidential election, and it is her personal goal to give voice to health professionals among policy makers.

"This is an opportunity for all of us to share the knowledge that we have and really think about how we can best meet the needs of individuals with chronic care conditions at the moment and be able to squeeze out more dollars for prevention and other needs," Ford-Roegner says.

MANAGED HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE spoke with Ford-Roegner about how this board may impact the future of managed care as it relates to chronic disease, among other issues.

Q: What is the future of managing chronic disease? Where will the emphasis be?

A: The emphasis will be on coordination of care, whether we're talking about education or prevention, which often has been left out. We first must aim to prevent future chronic care. Then we must focus on the actual coordination of chronic care that exists.

Q: How can managed care be prepared for the future of chronic disease management?

A: Managed care needs to be open to various solution-oriented models. I would urge them to recognize the services that people need and how we can best provide those. It may mean all of us must evaluate who can provide the best quality of care most cost efficiently. That means all professions have to be open to each other.

To give an example, in the care of chronic disease, if someone has a chronic disease, and it turns out that a nutritionist could best assist that person in coping with the disease and modifying the diet, then the nutritionist should be the lead professional.

How do we ensure that there is a team in place, as well as financial backing established, to support the nutritionist? In this current reimbursement system that we have, we've been paying for individual services. You have take a hard look at me as the consumer. What would best assist me and who would the provider be? It might be a diversity of professionals at any given time.