08:24pm Sunday 16 February 2020

My Tool Box demonstrates patient and healthcare system benefits

Data released for National Pain Awareness Week are welcome news for patients with chronic disease

Encouraging preliminary data from My Tool Box suggests patients who enroll in the six week chronic disease management program, visit the Emergency Department (ED) less and have reduced hospital stays, resulting in significant cost savings to the healthcare system. The program, which is unique to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Quebec, teaches patients how to better manage the symptoms and treatments of their chronic disease, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. . The program has also been shown to reduce acute and chronic pain in these patients.

“We teach patients with a chronic disease what they need to know to optimally manage their symptoms, recognize what represents an emergency, and more effectively use healthcare resources,” explained Dr. Deborah Radcliffe-Branch, Director of the My Tool Box program at the MUHC. “We give them the tools to face the daily challenges of managing their disease, which gives them greater autonomy.” 

Preliminary data released today suggest My Tool Box has almost halved the number of ED visits and overnight hospital stays, as well as significantly reduced acute and chronic pain for the program’s 750 participants. “These are fantastic results,” said Dr. Radcliffe-Branch. “In addition to improving patients’ health and quality of life, this amounts to a yearly saving for the healthcare system of approximately $3,900 per patient,” 

Another measure of the program’s success is the number of patients that have become instructors for the program. “We currently have over 50 program graduates who have been trained and certified as instructors for My Tool Box,” said Dr. Radcliffe-Branch. “Peer support is a big part of the program’s success, allowing us to help more patients.”

My Tool Box is a free program that was established at the MUHC in 2007 and is now being expanded to other areas of the McGill RUIS (Réseau Universitaire Intégré de Santé), such as Abitibi-Témiscaminque. The program is based on The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Dr Kate Lorig and colleagues in 1996 at Standford University, California, which has since also been adopted in other Canadian provinces.

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