Improving the quality of care for patients with chronic diseases is an important goal for the nation's health care system. A Minnesota study published in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that layperson care guides may be the key to achieving this objective.
Watch the video and learn more about the Robina Care Guide Project.
Allina Health, with assistance from University of Minnesota researchers, examined the effect of providing patients with a layperson care guide. The care guides were outgoing people who shared a similar cultural background with the patients they served. They received special training on how to help people make changes and had the time to listen, develop relationships and help the patients make plans.
"The integration of non-clinical people in the primary care delivery process can help both patients and physicians focus on achieving important health goals and do so at an affordable price," said Richard Adair, MD, an internist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Health.
The main objective of the care guides was to help patients and primary care providers achieve proven, nationally recommended health goals.
The study included 2,135 patients. Those who were assigned a care guide experienced a 30.1 percent reduction in unmet health goals. Those who were not assigned a care guide had a 12.6 percent reduction.
The estimated yearly per-patient cost of the care-guide service was $286. In typical clinical settings, helping patients meet their health goals is the responsibility of nurses who do so at a higher financial cost to the health care system and are often busy with other tasks. The care guides provided an additional service to the clinic and did not replace what doctors and nurses do.
The study was funded by the Robina Foundation and conducted between July 2010 and April 2012.