When Chronic Disease Self-Management Education and Population Health Meet


Guest Blogger: Lori Oster, Better Choices, Better Health SD, Program Coordinator, Chronic Disease Nurse Consultant

Living with a chronic physical and/or mental health condition can be lonely, overwhelming and, if not managed successfully, debilitating. Have you ever thought, there must be a better way, when it comes to managing ongoing health conditions? People with chronic health conditions deal with symptoms that affect their quality of life daily. Thousands of South Dakotans live with at least one chronic health condition; while many continue to manage multiple chronic conditions, or become a caregiver for those lacking the skills or resources to properly manage their health. Additionally, the top five leading causes of death in South Dakota are due to chronic disease. Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable.

A New Approach             

Health care systems were designed to address acute illness rather than chronic disease. As a result, care was reactive and treatment was focused on responding to symptoms as they presented themselves. Studies now encourage a proactive approach to treating and managing chronic disease; employing a coordinated healthcare team focused on preventative and integrated care that incorporates both clinical and community resources to help support people in becoming an active partner in managing their health.

Shaping the Concept                  

 There is a growing realization that successful health care systems can simultaneously deliver excellent quality of care at optimized costs while improving the health of the populations they serve. This is known as the Triple Aim, the ultimate destination for care delivery practices. An evidence-based program that compliments and supports the triple aim goals is chronic disease self-management education (CDSME). CDSME programs are the difference between hearing you should eat better and get more exercise, and actually receiving peer support while actively learning and practicing strategies and skills that improve self-confidence in your ability to make long-term lifestyle changes, like incorporating a healthy diet and starting an exercise plan.

Ninety-nine percent of managing our health happens where we live, work, eat, and play; only 1% happens while under the direct care of our health team. CDSME offers the opportunity to gain confidence and skills needed to make better choices. We can change chronic disease trends by having better health be our priority, to maximize our quality of life and function over our life span, and help our population and our community become healthier once again.

Better Choices, Better Health® SD (BCBH), is South Dakota’s evidenced-based CDSME offering, is available to South Dakotan adults, and is free to attend. For more information about the Better Choices, Better Health® SD program, please go to betterchoicesbetterhealthsd.org or call 1-888-484-3800.