The problems associated with ageing populations are being intensified by the growing number of people living with chronic conditions, with diseases like diabetes, depression and musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions steadily increasing over the last 20 years in Europe: an estimated 50 million EU citizens suffer from two or more chronic diseases and, increasingly, the ‘disease burden’ is defined by disability rather than premature mortality.
EARLY INTERVENTION IN WORK DISABILITY AS PART OF THE SOLUTION
Closer integration of health and social care has been proposed as a solution to simultaneously reduce expenditure, relieve pressure on key services and improve the outcomes and experience of system users. To turn this theory into practice, AbbVie – together with the European Steering Group (ESG) on Sustainable Healthcare – launched over 30 pilot projects across Europe to gather evidence and scale-up new and effective sustainable healthcare practices.
The most pioneering programme to date is the pilot project, the ‘Early Intervention Clinic’ (EIC) at the Hospital Clinico San Carlos in Madrid, which focuses on early intervention in MSK-related work disability with the aim of getting people back to work. Over 13,000 patients were randomized to early intervention or usual care. Temporary work disability (TWD) was 39% lower for early intervention patients and permanent work disability was 50% lower. Also: patient satisfaction was high and analysis of cost-effectiveness showed that for every €1 of expenditure, €11 was saved in lost productivity and healthcare costs. If these results were applied across Spain, modelling suggests that the equivalent of over 81,000 additional Spanish workers would be available for work each day rather than taking sick leave. Early intervention typically requires little in terms of additional resources (but they can be difficult to obtain) and facilities – rather, it enables more effective use of existing organisational and infrastructure resources in order to improve efficiency and value for money while establishing greater patient involvement in the development of care pathways and optimal health outcomes.
THE BENEFITS OF EARLY INTERVENTION IN WORK DISABILITY
A system-wide focus on early intervention should be considered an investment, rather than simply a cost; properly integrated services, where primary and secondary, specialist, care work together efficiently makes for timely, effective interventions, reducing the long-term economic and clinical burden of delayed and ineffective interventions in many conditions including physical disabilities and chronic diseases.
MAKING EARLY INTERVENTION A REALITY
As spending on prevention accounts for only 3% of healthcare expenditure in Europe, there is enormous potential – and good reason – for further spending to be allocated to early intervention programmes. In collaboration with the Work Foundation and associated partners and experts, the European Steering Group (ESG) on Sustainable Healthcare and AbbVie have developed a Toolkit to enable the scaling-up of the Madrid Early Intervention Clinic (EIC) project across Europe – and beyond. The toolkit has identified 4 key success factors and developed a specific framework to ensure success. Achieving healthcare sustainability requires collaboration among all players in – and beyond – the healthcare system.
Download the full story here: Introduction to the Early Intervention Toolkit
Find the Early Intervention Toolkit here.