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This publication discusses how networks with clinics for specialist medical care can improve the medical care for patients with chronic diseases.
CHRONIC diseases such as heart- and vascular diseases, diabetes and COPD constitute a large and growing part of the costs for health- and medical care in Sweden. Almost half of the Swedish population suffers from long-term illnesses. 80–85 per cent of the resources for health- and medical care target patients with chronic diseases. This publication discusses how networks with clinics for specialist medical care can improve the medical care for patients with chronic diseases. The American network ImproveCareNow, which constitutes the focus here, was established in 2004. Currently, it consists of 70 clinics specialising in medical care for children and elderly with inflammatory bowel diseases, covering 19 000 patients and involving more than 500 doctors. Despite differences between the US and the Swedish system for medical care and the fact that each disease has its own characteristics, there are lessons that can be transferred to Sweden and to other chronic diseases.
NETWORKS GIVE BETTER HEALTH RESULTS. Since the introduction of ImproveCareNow, the share of patients in networks that do not have any symptoms has increased from 55 to 79 per cent. A starting point for the network is to actively involve patients and their families in medical care.
DOCUMENTATION AND REGISTERS. Careful documentation and common registers are conditions for improvement and development of the medical care for those who are chronically ill.
CLINICAL STUDIES Networks that connect clinics for specialist medical care facilitate the implementation of clinical studies and can contribute to an increase in the rate of research.
AUTHOR Martin Rejler is Doctor of Medicine, Chief Physician of Gastroenterology at the medical clinic Höglandssjukhuset, Eksjö, and Researcher at Jönköping Academy for Improvement in Health and Welfare. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.