Grant will fund project to improve care of patients with chronic illnesses

The medical school's Center for Education in Family and Community Medicine has received a $30,000 grant from the California HealthCare Foundation to improve the care of patients with chronic illness, a rapidly growing population.

"We were trained, historically, to take care of patients one by one on an episodic basis," said Nancy Morioka-Douglas, MD, clinic chief of Stanford Family Medicine and a recipient of the grant. As people live longer, however, and deal with more chronic illnesses, they need a different kind of care.

More than 100 million Americans now suffer from chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, asthma, osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

With this one-year grant, Stanford will become a participant in the California Academic Chronic Care Collaborative, aiming to improve chronic care of these patients by providing better support systems, physician training and information networks.

For this pilot phase of the project, 100 existing diabetes patients at Stanford Family Medicine and Stanford Medical Group will be enrolled. Morioka-Douglas is part of the team developing interactive ways of communicating with these patients, encouraging them to manage their own condition and tracking their ongoing treatment.

One essential branch of this team is the information technology experts who are devising a system to manage the large amounts of data that will be generated for these patients.

"Patients with chronic illness make up a large part of each of our practices regardless of where we practice: the specialty clinics, the surgery clinics, even pediatrics," said Morioka-Douglas. "There is a best practice in caring for these people and I think that it is important that we train the next generation of physicians in how to do it right."