Redefining Primary Care: European Health Insurance’s Emphasis On Holistic Health – For decades, health care has been provided primarily in centralized facilities such as hospitals, allowing for tremendous advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, but capturing only periodic snapshots of our health, but not always available to patients in remote or underserved communities. Today, thanks to digital health technologies, we are witnessing the rapid emergence of a new paradigm: one in which we can bring care closer to the patient, virtually or physically, at home or in the community. That’s why we believe distributed care is the future of healthcare. The trend toward outpatient care was already well advanced before the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital triage, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring. As this year’s Future Health Index report shows, healthcare leaders now view expanding care beyond the hospital as their top priority, after staff satisfaction and retention . Like them, we believe that building more hospitals cannot be the only answer to meeting the growing demand for accessible and affordable treatment. Distributed healthcare is turning the traditional hospital paradigm of healthcare on its head. Instead of patients coming to a central location, distributed care brings care to patients. Increasingly, we will see health care delivered through a decentralized network of outpatient clinics, retail chains, and home monitoring, instruction, and treatment. The glue that binds this network together is the end-to-end experience of the patients it serves throughout their treatment journey.
The reasons for this paradigm shift are more relevant than ever. Health systems around the world are under increasing financial pressure, with health care spending taking up an ever-increasing share of countries’ GDP . In many countries, hospital care accounts for the largest share of these costs, accounting for more than $1 trillion in the United States alone . There is a growing awareness that if health care is to remain affordable and sustainable, it must move to lower costs where possible, to address people’s health problems at a much earlier stage and, ideally, prevent them. An additional challenge for hospitals is that they are understaffed to keep up with the growing demand for care, while chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer continue to spread. A global shortage of 6 million nurses before COVID-19, plus 4.7 million nurses due to retire in the next few years, has been exacerbated by pandemic-related burnout, leading to a 13 million shortfall by 2030 nurses . The prospect of physician shortages is also a concern  , leading health leaders to wonder how they can shift care from labor-intensive hospitals to more efficient homes and community settings. At the same time, patients expect a more digital healthcare experience that doesn’t require them to spend valuable time and money traveling when – in some cases – they can just as successfully connect with their doctor remotely. After learning about the benefits of telehealth during the pandemic, 60% of patients say they find virtual care more convenient than in-person care .
Redefining Primary Care: European Health Insurance’s Emphasis On Holistic Health
The pandemic has also cast a harsh light on long-standing inequalities in access to health care in many parts of the world. In the 2022 Future Health Index report, we see how this has ignited a sense of social responsibility among healthcare leaders to improve access to quality care for all patients, regardless of location or background . This is still a far cry from today’s reality, in which half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services . We can and must do better. So, what does a more distributed and affordable healthcare system look like? We find it useful to distinguish between four models of care delivery, as shown in the graphic below, which shows the patient care journey through various touchpoints. Let’s take a closer look at each model, starting with the one that has seen the most explosive growth in recent years: virtual assistance.
A Call To Action For Improving Clinical Outcomes In Patients With Asthma
When Australian healthcare provider West Moreton Health faced a disproportionate number of avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations, they looked for new ways to make quality care available to high-needs chronically ill patients. Remote patient monitoring proved to be a vital part of the solution. In partnership with West Moreton Health, it developed a virtual patient engagement program called MeCare, which uses home health devices to collect patient-reported outcome data and biometrics, including blood pressure and oxygen levels. Results are viewed in real-time to actively engage participants in personalized health coaching. Early results were significant, with a 28% reduction in preventable hospitalizations for chronically ill patients. Since then, West Moreton has expanded the MeCare program to include more patients and more uses, including COVID-19 monitoring, medication management and mental health. This is a great example of how virtual care can offer healthcare professionals a window into a patient’s day-to-day health. They no longer need to rely on episodic measurements. They can now monitor a patient’s health over time and provide continuity of care wherever the patient is. In this case, this means that patients in smaller rural communities in the West Moreton area also benefit, making the local healthcare system more equitable and inclusive. Another way we implement home monitoring of patients is through patches for early detection of heart rhythm abnormalities to prevent (re)strokes. Such patches are becoming increasingly invisible, allowing patients to lead an active lifestyle while expanding the field of vision of doctors from the hospital to the home. Add to that the power of cloud-based AI that can detect early signs of heart rhythm abnormalities based on more than 20 million ECG recordings, and we can give care teams the information they need to intervene preemptively.
Clinical-grade home ECG monitoring may also be useful for research. Instead of having patients visit the research site multiple times throughout the trial, decentralized clinical trials give patients the tools to record and share data at home. Not only does this improve the patient experience, but it can help stop the fatigue that often hinders clinical trials. Equally important, it can make clinical trials accessible to those who have traditionally been underrepresented. Typically, 70 percent of potential participants live more than two hours from trial sites. Decentralization expands access to trials to include a larger and more diverse patient pool, thereby contributing to higher quality outcomes that are more representative of the general population [ 9 ].
Of course, not all clinical care or research can be done remotely. Personal interaction remains important to many aspects of health care. But that doesn’t mean it always has to be tied to a fixed location that requires patients to travel. What if help moved on wheels to go to patients? This is exactly the premise of mobile healthcare services. For example, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, we launched a first-of-its-kind mobile intensive care unit (ICU) equipped with nine beds that can be deployed in one day to rapidly scale up intensive care. capacity where needed and community outreach. Such highly flexible solutions can help mitigate the effects of future disasters and pandemics to improve access to health care and avoid hospital overcrowding. As another example of mobile health care, we are piloting medical trucks in the Japanese city of Ida, providing on-demand primary care services to patients in communities with a shortage of skilled health workers. Combined with telehealth, mobile medical trucks allow patients to connect to a remote clinical expert. The clinical expert, in turn, can offer virtual guidance to help the local healthcare professional use modern mobile equipment, such as a portable ultrasound scanner. Although there is still much work to be done to expand the use of such mobile diagnostic solutions, we believe they hold great promise for the future. Enhancing them with artificial intelligence would make it easier for local health professionals to get the right images and then interpret them correctly. That’s why we’re excited to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on an AI-powered ultrasound app that will be designed to help nurses in low- and middle-income countries detect potential pregnancy complications early, giving expectant moms a better chance of a healthy birth a child Especially in areas where the nearest hospital may be many miles away, mobile healthcare solutions can make a big difference in the heart of the community.
Along with the rise of virtual and mobile healthcare, we will see more and more healthcare services delivered in spaces such as department stores, shopping malls, gyms and airports. During the pandemic, pop-up clinics played a key role in relieving the burden on overburdened health systems by providing testing and vaccination on a large scale . There are many other routine tests and medical procedures that can also be carried out in community settings to free up hospital resources, improve access to care and support early detection and diagnosis
Primary Care 2030: Innovative Models Transform The Landscape
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