Illnesses caused by people’s behaviours, suffocate healthcare budgets

The increase in illnesses caused by people’s way of life, influenced by factors such as social isolation, income inequality, poor nutrition and pollution, could suffocate public and private healthcare budgets globally, according to the global survey Social Determinants of Health, made by PwC Health Research Institute.

„80% of a person’s health is attributable to health behaviours, the physical environment and socioeconomic conditions, according to the survey. The forecasts are worrying: by 2025, the OECD projects that many countries will see obesity and overweight rates exceeding 68% of the population and that makes people more prone to a slew of chronic health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancers”, said Ruxandra Târlescu, Partener PwC România.

Countries have been spending more on healthcare every year, USD 8.4 trillion across the globe. Addressing social determinants of health is urgent, and employers, authorities, pharmaceutical companies, insurers and physicians must find solutions that impact both people’s lives and budgets.

In some states are taking shape strategies that can be replicated worldwide, such as: prevention programs based on digital applications for monitoring the state of health or diseases evolution, health outcomes–based contracts between authorities and pharmaceutical companies or social programs for connecting patients with the same diseases.

The main conclusions of the PwC survey

  • 57% of consumers surveyed said their doctor had never discussed the important social factors affecting their health.
  • one in five respondents indicated they could not afford a healthy lifestyle, and a
  • 20% said they did not have the time to focus on healthy behaviours
  • 35% are not getting enough sleep at night, because working multiple jobs, caring for family members, lacking proper housing, suffering from stress.
  • 26% think that too much time spent using mobile phones and social media) affects the way they live.
  • The investments already made in healthcare, countries have not been able to bring about the necessary societal shifts to encourage habits that could prevent chronic conditions from developing. Between 1990 and 2010 in the OECD, for example, smoking rates dropped 31%. But alcohol use fell only 8%, and the rate of daily vegetable consumption increased by just 2%.
  • Half of global biopharmaceutical executives surveyed by HRI in February 2019 said traditional drug pricing practices were unsustainable, and 90% said the healthcare system would be challenged to afford the next wave of innovative medicines.
  • Some states are experiencing health outcomes–based contracts that links the price with the treatment results on patients. In these cases, drug companies have more of a stake in making sure patients are able to take all their medications as prescribed and they have healthy behaviours. Otherwise, the companies must repay part of the costs.
  • Patient monitoring using Artificial Intelligence applications installed on smartphones or smart watches is a trend that can help healthcare systems.

PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) conducted a global survey in June 2019 of 8,000 people in eight territories, along with interviews of healthcare organisations leaders and an analysis of more than 20 case studies,

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