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Patient health management (PHM) belongs to the area of health care that is most commonly called disease management. While disease management is not a new term, it has no universally accepted definition. Rather, it is often defined according to a set of characteristics.

Continuous improvement in practice and outcomes is a key element of
patient health management

It has been described as:
  • Patient-centred approach to prevention, diagnosis and therapy of illness
  • Drug and non-drug therapy
  • Collaboration and coordination of services and interventions
  • Shift away from isolated inputs and controls, such as bed counts or hospital closures
  • Monitoring, measurement and feedback of practices and outcomes
  • System view of health; integration of components
  • Improvement of the health of whole populations
  • Knowledge creation and dissemination
The Disease Management Association of America has defined disease management as a “system of coordinated health care interventions and communications for populations with conditions in which patient self-care is significant.”

To boil it all down, the key elements in effective disease management are an orientation toward whole communities of patients and adoption of a system view of the economic, clinical and management processes and outcomes of health care.

Perhaps above all is the belief that things can be better, paired with a commitment to act to make them better, including a willingness to measure what we do and don't do and what we receive or don't receive in return for our efforts. At its simplest level, disease management is the focused application of resources to drive improvements in health practices and outcomes.