People in the UK are living with chronic illnesses but not getting appropriate treatment. Without intervention, patients face worsening health with irreversible damage. For some, the outcome will be worse than this. No one is to blame for these undiagnosed conditions. The NHS is not at fault. So what is the problem, and what can you do about it?
Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. An early cancer diagnosis is more likely to lead to a successful outcome. If a tumour gets too large or spreads to other areas of the body, it is more difficult to treat. Cancer Research UK say that diagnosis at the earliest stage helps:
Yesterday, The Kings Fund hosted an online event about transforming healthcare at scale. The theme was to explore the advantages of a population level approach to healthcare:
It costs the UK £8 billion a year to treat the preventable complications of diabetes. Over 4 million people are living with diabetes in the UK. Better self-management will make an enormous difference to a patient's well being. If these patients can learn how to manage their illness better, they will reduce the strain on GP practices.
When you treat a patient with diabetes, you can issue them an 'information prescription'.
Traditional primary care services are reactive. A patient feels unwell or experiences symptoms that cause them to visit their GP. During the patient consultation, the GP may make a diagnosis, request tests or refer to a specialist. We accept this approach to healthcare, but with the pressures facing the NHS, we should be looking for alternatives.
We're heading towards a perfect storm. We're living longer, which means more of us live with at least one long-term condition. We're putting more demand on NHS services, but the NHS is under increasing pressure, and there is a shortage of GPs. The situation is not sustainable. Something has to change, and we must reimagine general practice.
Population health is the science of improving healthcare at scale. It's how towns, cities, and CCGs or health boards manage their patients' health at a macro level. As well as improving outcomes, it can help service providers to make better use of resources.
Over 22% of the UK population has at least one long-term condition. That's more than 15 million people with conditions that have no cure. Managing these patients' chronic diseases for the rest of their lives will be expensive. There's a human cost too. How does living with one or more long-term condition impact a patient's quality of life?
Anticoagulants help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Warfarin is the most widely prescribed anticoagulant in the UK. Carefully monitoring each patient's dose of warfarin is essential. This can be time-consuming, even for practices with a small number of patients taking anticoagulants.
Population level healthcare is a modern approach to improving patient health at scale. Analysing health data allows service providers and commissioners to combat local health challenges. How does it work?