community care

If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that critical hospital capacity can quickly become saturated in times of crisis. On several occasions over the past two years, this has led to delays in standard care to make room for extra capacity in intensive care units (ICU). However, we know that moving care out of hospitals does not have to mean compromising on quality or on patient outcomes. In fact, many patient communities are now accustomed to being treated outside the hospital setting, ensuring safe and continuous care during the pandemic – and beyond. For example, in Belgium more than 150.000 patients are diagnosed with sleep apnea and they are all treated at home with medical devices, according to a recent infographic published by beMedTech (the Belgian national association of medical technology industry). Similarly, almost all patients in need for oxygen therapy receive the treatment at home via dedicated home care providers. Even a more complex therapy such as kidney dialysis is taking place at home in nearly 1 out of 10 dialysis patients. This need does not represent a compromise on optimal care. You might be pleasantly surprised to hear that many patients are happy with the quality of care they can avail of without traveling to a busy hospital. Indeed, when delivered by providers with the right expertise and tools, homecare can improve patients’ lives and deliver superior results. It is also a more cost-effective solution for many types of care, making budget available for other treatments and therapies. While Belgium has explored the shift from hospital care to home care e.g. via pilot projects, we know there are still many hurdles to overcome. That is why beMedTech has launched a social media campaign to put homecare in the spotlight. Built on our Home Care...
Providing health services in the community offers benefits to patients and can be more efficient for health systems. This was true long before any of us had heard of COVID-19, but the pandemic has highlighted the need to provide safe and effective community and home care for vulnerable patients, like those suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and needing kidney replacement therapy (KRT ). By 2030, if no action is taken, the number of CKD patients could reach 14.5 million . This imposes a heavy burden on patients and their families, but also translates into significant costs for health systems: treatment for CKD accounts for 2% of many countries' healthcare budgets. While investing in preventative measures and research for kidney disease is important, we also need to provide all treatment options as part of the continuum of care to allow patients to live well with CKD. Our goal should be to embrace a shared decision-making approach and take advantage of the new opportunities provided by digital solutions for remote treatment and patient support, particularly in the context of COVID-19. This concept is reflected in the theme of this year's World Kidney Day : Health for Everyone Everywhere: Living Well with Kidney Disease. COVID-19 risk factors Research shows that CKD is one of the most prevalent risk factors for severe COVID-19 . In light of this, the European Kidney Health Alliance has issued a Call to Action supported by the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, and endorsed by 20 Members of the European Parliament and 69 scientific & patient organisations from across Europe. It demands better access to home therapies, transplantation and the uptake of digital tools, as well as better prevention, research, collection and sharing of CKD data. The European Commission's Expert Panel on Resilient Health & Social Care...
Over the past 20 years, much has been written about hospital–industry partnerships (also known as Public–Private Partnerships or PPPs). Though they have as many champions as detractors, and there are lessons to be learned, in today’s increasingly strained healthcare systems, their potential is undeniable. Despite the importance and value of these partnerships, through our own newly-launched CareAdvantage approach and other value-based offerings, the challenge of making this relatively new mechanism work well in an already complex sector is considerable. This intricacy is what led us to partner with Hospital Healthcare Europe (HHE) on the delivery of an independent report for 2018, “Perspectives on Hospital and Industry Partnerships: The Aim of Improving Outcomes, Increasing Patient Satisfaction and Reducing Costs.” We hoped that, by providing us with direct insights from healthcare leaders and stakeholders across EMEA, the report would allow us to better understand the concerns and opportunities that are shaping today’s awareness of these partnerships. I’m pleased to say that it has done just that. Much of the study’s findings deserve close consideration but I would like to highlight three of the most well-reported insights that, to me, have resonated most clearly. A shift in perceptions Firstly, hospital–industry partnerships are increasingly seen as “a welcome addition to hospital stakeholders and healthcare system decision makers’ armamentarium. ” There is still some wariness and hesitation in working with third parties – the private sector must be able to convince healthcare providers that patient outcomes are as important tous as they are to them – but “fresh eyes that challenge current systems…are needed.” Although they are not yet fully embraced across the sector, this shift towards viewing hospital–industry partnerships as a welcome step forward is very promising. Complementary capabilities Another valuable indication from the report is that there is now a true understanding that...
The argument has raged for some time and shows no sign of abating any time soon: screening for diseases, yes or no? Take the case of prostate cancer screening: Richard Ablin - the author of “The Great Prostate Hoax”, and the man who claims to be the first to have identified PSA (a protein created by the walnut-sized prostate gland that can easily be measured) - maintains that PSA testing can do, and often does, more harm than good. Ablin, of the University of Arizona, has noted that a man’s PSA levels may be high but that doesn’t mean that he has cancer. On the reverse side of the coin, a low PSA level doesn’t necessary mean that a potential patient’s worries are over in this regard.Yet the fact remains that around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. So all men should be regularly tested, right? Well, not necessarily… Ablin and others argue that over-testing can very easily lead to over-treatment, including unnecessary invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland. The over-treatment argument has also been used in respect of breast cancer screening, although the figures tend to show that it works very well in a preventative sense and even better in detecting early breast cancer in target age groups. Yet over-treatment is clearly an issue, with many women (plus those aforementioned men with early ‘signs’ of prostate cancer) simply wanting all traces of the disease, or potential disease, removed right away, regardless of the potential cost to them personally or, indeed, fiscally to society in general. So over-treatment is clearly something that cannot be side-stepped. The counter-arguments - and they are very strong ones - is that our ‘social contract’ has obligations to ensure the highest standards possible regarding...
Shouldn’t we be rewarded for healthy behaviour rather than repeatedly punished for being ‘bad’? Fat tax and sugar tax, duty on cigarettes and vodka – everyone can think of a ‘sin tax’ they pay from time to time. These are the penalties we pay for making unhealthy choices. The idea of sin taxes has been gaining ground in recent years. The success of price rises on cigarettes and alcohol in curbing consumption is leading governments to consider what other disease-causing products could be taxed out of existence . In Europe, Denmark were the early movers: they introduced a tax on fatty foods in 2011. It applied to meat, dairy products, oils and certain other foods which contained more than 2.3% of saturated fat. The tax ‘worked’ in that it raised revenue and cut consumption of fatty foods by 4% . However, the policy didn’t last long. It was scrapped within 18 months because the government said the tax was too difficult and expensive to collect. Japan is taking a different route . Instead of hitting shoppers in the pocket to reduce the size of their gut, authorities impose fines on employers and local governments who fail to keep waistlines in check. Other countries, including the UK and Ireland have targeted sugary drinks by proposing a ‘soda tax’ to nudge consumers into making healthier choices. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – a campaigner for healthy eating – hailed the move as a victory for children’s health. He was so happy about the new tax that he did a little dance at the end of a TV interview which was captured by BBC! There’s no doubt that taxes can be used to push people into making ‘better’ choices. But what ever happened to incentives for positive change? GPs in the UK get bonuses...
Revolutionising and reinventing Medicine We are currently experiencing a great period of particularly stimulating technological breakthroughs. A great deal of progress is expected in practically all areas of our daily life: health, home, work, consumption, the environment… In the health sector alone, there are plenty of new inventions: you can manage your diabetes with a mobile application, make a prosthesis with a 3D printer, continuously monitor your own statistics and there are new techniques for predictive analysis . These inventions are gradually transforming our approach to health and the relationship between hospitals and patients. As these innovative technologies become more and more widespread, the patient becomes more active in monitoring his own state of health and the hospital’s role is changing: we spend less time in hospital, there’s greater comfort for the patient, and the costs for our social security system are reduced. So, in the long run, medical innovation may improve both the quality of healthcare for the patient and the performance of our health system. At this time of medical innovation, surgical robotics is a particularly promising area. A sign of its potential: surgical robotics alone represents a world market which should reach over 20 billion dollars by 2020! This is mainly due to the boom in minimally invasive surgery, which is a way of operating patients via very small incisions. I created Medtech because I was convinced that this trend was inevitable and positive both for patients and the medical world. By democratising the access to minimally invasive surgery, this technology facilitates and considerably improves the surgical act - serving patients and practitioners - and contributes to the performance of hospital facilities. Let’s transmit and connect these innovations! As innovations are only meaningful when they are shared, surgical robotics also aims to make modern surgery accessible to...