The Role of Technology in Chronic Disease Management – #HITsm Chat Topic

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 8/24 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Colton Ortolf (@ColtonOrtolf) who blogs at tech prescribed on the topic of “The Role of Technology in Chronic Disease Management“.

Chronic disease is an incredibly broad term, but it can be simply defined as “a physical or mental health condition that lasts more than one year and causes functional restrictions or requires ongoing monitoring or treatment.” In all, 86% of $2 trillion in US healthcare expenditures each year are devoted to those with chronic illnesses.

If you aren’t sufficiently shaken by that statistic, here are a few more on the devastating impact of these diseases:

  • 60% of people have at least 1 chronic disease, while 12% have 5 or more
  • Chronic disease accounts for $0.96 of every Medicare dollar and $0.83 of every Medicaid dollar
  • Productivity losses from chronic illness will cost the US approximately $1T annually
  • Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths every year

Also, here are the top 10 chronic diseases by percentage of the US population they impact: Hypertension (58%), High Cholesterol (47%), Arthritis (31%), Coronary Artery Disease (29%), Diabetes (27%), Chronic Kidney Disease (18%), Heart Failure (14%), Depression (14%), Alzheimer’s / Dementia (11%), COPD (11%).

Now that we can all agree on the scale of this epidemic, we can begin to decipher how we should go about addressing it. Being a chronic disease sufferer is – at best – challenging and – at worst – completely debilitating. Drawers and cabinets are filled with complicated medications, doctor appointments cause missed work days, and daily pain can become unbearable. Along with the added mental and physical stress, we would assume that consumers would try to avoid these illnesses at all costs. However, much of the rise in chronic disease rates can be attributed to preventable patient behaviors: smoking, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity. Couple these behaviors with extended life expectancy, and a chronic disease is nearly guaranteed for your future.

Given the nature of these risk factors, it is clear that reducing costs and prevalence is reliant on our ability to predict and alter consumer behavior; and, many entities have undertaken efforts to do so in recent years. Population Health initiatives, often spearheaded by public institutions, seek to remove environmental risk factors and educate the public on how to make healthier choices. Providers and Health Plans launch coordinated behavior modification campaigns targeted at populations at risk of developing chronic illnesses. Care Management teams directed by trained specialists deploy a variety of tactics to help the sickest patients stay on track with their care plans. The people driving these efforts are nothing short of heroic, but we are also on the precipice of an opportunity to scale and optimize their efforts using cutting edge technology.

And that brings us to the focus of today’s chat. Scaled data management and analytics, proliferation of wearables and IoT sensors, and the dawn of artificial intelligence are among the many technologies that we expect to drastically improve the management of chronic diseases. We are already seeing impact through companies like Omada Health, which utilizes digital tracking technology and a wifi scale coupled with personalized coaching to combat diabetes. Google is even developing an AI that can recommend fitness and meal plans. Controlling the growth of these diseases is undoubtedly the biggest challenge and the most salient opportunity we have in the US healthcare system. As we progress towards a new age of fee for value, let’s explore the following questions to determine our greatest opportunities at the intersection of tech and chronic disease management.


Here are the various topics and questions we’ll be discussing for this week’s #HITsm chat.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: How can technology help drive healthier behaviors in patients? #HITsm

T2: Given increasing focus on mental health conditions, how can technology play a role in supporting behavioral health patients? #HITsm

T3: What tools should we develop for caregivers to help optimize their efforts in managing chronic diseases? #HITsm

T4: What needs to change in industry structure (payment models, policy, health system focus, etc.) to better enable our fight against chronic diseases? #HITsm

T5: Do you think providers, payers, tech companies, or others are best positioned to have the biggest impact on chronic disease costs? #HITsm

Bonus: What are some examples of companies that are having a measurable impact in this space? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
8/31 – Will Big Media Spoil HealthIT for the Little Guy?
Hosted by ShereeseM, MS/MBA (@ShereesePubHlth)

9/7 – TBD
Hosted by Jessica Maxine Selby (@JessMSelby)

9/14 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

9/21 – Human Centered Design in Healthcare #PatientsMatter
Hosted by Jen Horonjeff (@jhoronjeff) from @Savvy_Coop

9/28 – How Does Interoperability Affect Technology Adoption in Healthcare?
Hosted by Niko Skievaski @niko_ski from @redox

10/5 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.