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Chronic diseases and conditions are on the rise

Costly chronic care needs are growing and exerting considerable demand on health systems.

Chronic diseases and conditions are on the rise worldwide. An ageing population and changes in societal behaviour are contributing to a steady increase in these common and costly long-term health problems.

The middle class is growing; and with urbanisation accelerating, people are adopting a more sedentary lifestyle. This is pushing obesity rates and cases of diseases such as diabetes upward. According to the World Health Organization, chronic disease prevalence is expected to rise by 57% by the year 2020. Emerging markets will be hardest hit, as population growth is anticipated be most significant in developing nations. Increased demand on healthcare systems due to chronic disease has become a major concern.

Another rising health concern is global pandemics. The pandemics of the past decade have clearly demonstrated the speed at which infections spread across the globe. Ebola, SARS, MERS, and H1N1—to name but a few—demand coordinated and agile healthcare responses. Pandemics will in all likelihood exert periodic and significant disruptive pressure on health systems. Healthcare organisations across the globe need to be ready to work together to contain outbreaks quickly when they occur.

New delivery models and advancements in precise detection and diagnoses of disease will help minimise the cost of treating chronic conditions.

Impact on Healthcare

New delivery models are emerging to address growing chronic care demands. Technology has a key role to play. Advancements in precise detection and diagnoses of disease will go far to minimise the cost of treating chronic conditions. New knowledge of genome sequencing and molecular diagnostics has given health sciences a better understanding of the precise nature of diseases and pathways to develop personalised treatments.

New entrants into the healthcare market are expanding and reshaping the system. The sector is placing greater emphasis on preventive health solutions and patient-centric care. This opens the door for industries such as retail, telecommunications, technology, wellness and fitness to bring innovative solutions to chronic disease prevention and management challenges.

With intensifying pressures on social and healthcare systems, international collaborations also offer governments opportunities to offset growing financial burdens. The European Union (EU) is one example of a joint healthcare alliance. An EU patient can access treatment in another EU country and still be eligible for reimbursement. Other similar collaborations will emerge as cost and service efficiencies are realised.

In turn, there are new global markets to exploit. The new delivery models are transpiring as the concept of borders is blurred by worldwide access to technology and its influence. Economic and geopolitical forces collide to create a more dynamic and competitive marketplace. Therefore, adaptive operating models that show flexibility on pricing and funding, for instance, will be important for a healthcare system looking to do things differently, more efficiently and with better outcomes.

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