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Focusing on the whole person to treat chronic disease – and cut costs

Yesterday's Marketplace on NPR offered a look at the new - and cost-effective - way some doctors are treating chronic illness. Among those featured in the segment was Alan Glaseroff, MD, co-director of Stanford Coordinated Care:

“[Our] work begins by asking the question, 'Why wouldn’t a person with a chronic condition do everything in their power to live long and feel well?'" he says. "And generally there is sort of a subtext, 'What is wrong with this person, they are not listening to me.'"

At his clinic, Glaseroff sees 160 privately insured patients, who racked up $58,000 a year, on average, in medical bills before he began treating them.

Glaseroff directs his team to focus first on what matters to a patient like dancing at his daughter’s wedding, for instance. Then they deal with the fact that the patient is diabetic and smokes three packs a day.

Glaseroff says his approach has helped shave 20 percent off his patient’s medical costs. He says if the model succeeds in other states, "It will be a huge step forward.”

Previously: Innovative Stanford clinic to support chronic care patients

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