Study: Lay Care Guides Help Chronic Disease Patients Reach Clinical Goals

Lay-person care guides can help chronic disease patients improve outcomes at a low cost, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

More than 2,000 patients with hypertension, diabetes or heart failure at six Minnesota primary care clinics worked toward standard care goals for one year between July 2010 and April 2012. Some patients had the help of a lay care guide who had received brief training about the diseases and behavior change, while other patients had usual care.

Patients with care guides achieved 82.6 percent of goals while patients receiving usual care reached 79.1 percent. In addition, patients with care guides increased the number of goals met by 10 percent and reduced the number of unmet goals by 30.1 percent, while patients receiving usual care increased goals met by 3.9 percent and decreased unmet goals by 12.6 percent. The estimated cost of having lay care guides was $286 per patient per year, according to the study.

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