Chronic illnesses require ongoing attention that differs from the traditional crisis-driven or episodic-based care for acute illnesses. Patients with chronic health conditions are often in the best position to know what they need and how to manage the broad array of factors that contribute to their health. Individuals with diabetes, for example, provide close to 95 percent of their own care. The capacity of people to self manage the symptoms, and challenges due to their chronic health conditions is often more important than the medical care provided by healthcare professionals.

Self-management involves the tasks that individuals must undertake to live well with one or more chronic conditions. These tasks include (1) dealing with their medications and other therapies, (2) carrying out their other roles in life, such as work and family, and (3) managing emotions related to their condition on a day-to-day basis. The person’s ability to carry out behaviors related to self-management is may be enhanced in many ways, such as improving their understanding of how healthy behaviors are related to living well with a chronic illness, understanding the relation of emotional well being to physical well being, their motivation, social support, barriers or facilitating factors in they environment, and support from their healthcare providers.

Optimizing Life, a program of the Institute for Optimizing Health Outcomes, enables patients and caregivers to enjoy as much physical and emotional health as possible when living with long-term health conditions. It helps them gain the confidence, skills, and desire to take charge of their own health and to regain control of their life.

Optimizing Life promotes effective collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals to enhance adherence to therapy and optimize benefits. Optimizing Life helps healthcare professionals develop the skills to give patients the knowledge and confidence to appropriately manage their condition and live healthily.

Who Benefits from "Optimizing Life?"
Patients benefit because they can better manage their condition, do more and feel better. Caregivers benefit because they can learn how to take care of themselves while supporting someone with a chronic condition.

Healthcare Professionals benefit because they can allocate their time to those patients who need it most and still support those who are successful self-managers.

Primary Care Teams, clinics, and healthcare organizations benefit because they can serve more patients more effectively with better outcomes.

Support groups can benefit because they can provide more effective lay-led services and engage more patients and families to take an active role.