Minimally disruptive medicine is needed for patients with multimorbidity: time to develop computerised medical record systems to meet this requirement

Peter Schattner, Fiona Barker, Simon de Lusignan


Background Minimally disruptive medicine (MDM) is proposed as a method for more appropriately managing people with multiple chronic disease. Much clinical management is currently single disease focussed, with people with multimorbidity being managed according to multiple single disease guidelines. Current initiatives to improve care include education about individual conditions and creating an environment where multiple guidelines might be simultaneously supported. The patientcentred medical home (PCMH) is an example of the latter. However, educational programmes and PCMH may increase the burden on patients.

Problem The cumulative workload for patients in managing the impact of multiple disease-specific guidelines is only relatively recently recognised. There is an intellectual vacuum as to how best to manage multimorbidity and how informatics might support implementing MDM. There is currently no alternative to multiple singlecondition- specific guidelines and a lack of certainty, should the treatment burden need to be reduced, as to which guideline might be ‘dropped’.

Action The best information about multimorbidity is recorded in primary care computerised medical record (CMR) systems and in an increasing number of integrated care organisations. CMR systems have the potential to flag individuals who might be in greatest need. However, CMR systems may also provide insights into whether there are ameliorating factors that might make it easier for them to be resilient to the burden of care. Data from such CMR systems might be used to develop the evidence base about how to better manage multimorbidity.

Conclusions There is potential for these information systems to help reduce the management burden on patients and clinicians. However, substantial investment in research-driven CMR development is needed if we are to achieve this.


chronic disease; comorbidity; computers; computerised medical record systems; data collection; health behaviour

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