AN INVESTMENT RATHER THAN A COST: A NEW APPROACH
• Focusing on investing in prevention and early intervention: preventing disease is far more effective for improving patient well-being and provides better value than treatment
• Exploring new ways to improve patient outcomes while lowering costs such as measuring and tracking outcomes and rethinking how healthcare is supplied and paid for
In many European countries, healthcare expenditures are above 10% of GDP and rising, outpacing GDP growth. As a result, governments and healthcare systems are working to control costs, sometimes through simple measures such as budget cuts.
YET, SHORT TERM SAVINGS DON’T EQUAL LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY
The economic crisis of 2008-2009 caused many countries to freeze or cut healthcare spending. However, short-term stop-gap measures could potentially end up causing greater expenses down the road as chronic conditions go untreated and worsen due to lack of healthcare. A recent study from the Imperial College of London demonstrates how healthcare budget cuts cost lives, as well. It estimates that more than 160,000 people in the EU died of cancer due to healthcare budget cuts between the beginning of the financial crisis and 2010. Finally, a less healthy population is also a less productive population: fewer available workers result in a lower GDP and fewer people paying into the system. Unless they have been carefully studied, short term budget cuts will merely postpone the crisis and do nothing to address the roots of the problem.
OECD, Health at a Glance Europe 2014 Chartsets:
« Economic downturns, universal health coverage, and cancer mortality in high-income and middle-income countries, 1990–2010: a longitudinal analysis » by M Maruthappu et al; published in The Lancet
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.