Handling patients with chronic illness needs a fundamental change in the approach to patient care. As a cure may not be a possibility, the care of a patient is priority. The standard approach is to first identify all of the problems through diagnostic testing and then attempt to solve each of the biological problems. Whereas, the need now is to take into account what is known about the illness, what is inevitable versus what is modifiable, the prognosis, and patient and family preferences. The long term care of chronic illness brings with it its own challenges with regard to medical management and support which is expected of the primary care physician and or treating doctor.
The changing societal needs and an aging, chronically ill population requires a basic change of approach to relieving suffering and improving quality of life for the whole person and his or her family. For this, the doctors, nurses and other health professionals need to be equipped with the basic understanding of palliative care, mainly pain management and communication.
There is great need among health professionals to understand the basics of palliative care. The primary care doctors care for a lot of chronic patients and lack the basic skills to handle pain and symptoms. There are a lot of uncomfortable questions that need to be addressed. With proper training in pain and symptom management, as well as communication, doctors can provide quality care to their patients. Social workers and counsellors working in medical settings require training in communication skills as well as in handling the psychosocial issues of patients and family members.