OHSU Physician To Address U.S. Senate Committee On Aging

04/03/11  Portland, Ore.

David Dorr, M.D., will tell about program he helped develop that could save Medicare millions.

 An Oregon Health & Science University physician is testifying Wednesday, May 9, before a U.S. Senate committee about a new chronic illness management program he developed that could save Medicare more than $100 million a year.

David Dorr, M.D., OHSU assistant professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology, will speak before the Senate Special Committee on Aging during a hearing titled "The Future of Medicare: Recognizing the Need for Chronic Care Coordination." The hearing is at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Sens. Gordon Smith, a Republican, and Ron Wyden, a Democrat, of Oregon both serve on the committee, which is chaired by Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin. Smith is the committee's ranking member.

In April, Dorr and Cherie P. Brunker, M.D., of Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City launched the next phase of Care Management Plus, a program integrating tested, clinically driven information technology with trained care managers to respectfully and effectively care for senior patients with complex illnesses.

A four-year, $2.5 million grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation is funding the expansion of a study of Care Management Plus to at least 40 rural and urban clinics - and as many as 60 - across the country. An earlier pilot study showed seniors in the program with diabetes had better control of their blood sugars and were more likely to be tested, corresponding to 15 percent to 25 percent fewer long-term complications.
They also had a 20 percent reduction in mortality and a 24 percent reduction in hospitalizations.

Dorr says patients with five or more chronic illnesses account for two-thirds of all Medicare spending. He plans to tell the committee that savings by clinics that used Care Management Plus were estimated at more than $250,000 per clinic. This means that if 2 percent of the nation's primary care providers adopted care coordination programs like Care Management Plus, Medicare could save as much as $100 million a year.

In Care Management Plus, the care manager empowers senior patients with multiple chronic diseases - diabetes, systolic hypertension, mild congestive heart failure, arthritis and memory problems, for example - to organize and prioritize their tasks, then monitors their progress. The care manager also collaborates with the patient, the family and physicians to adjust the plan as needed. The goal is to prevent problems rather than treating them after they occur.