Some stats:

  • 26% of health care costs in Australia can be avoided through better prevention. Treasury Departments predict by 2046 that 100% of State Government funding will go towards hospitals, the most expensive part of our health system.
  • Over 40% of Australians have a chronic health condition.
  • Simple measures can keep patients out of hospital – chest exercises in patients with lung disease, reducing weight and reducing pain in patients with arthritis, and improving sleep and managing stress in patients with diabetes.
  • Only 50 percent of chronic health conditions in Australia are managed according to freely available clinical guidelines.
  • In patients with diabetes, more than half of their clinical measurements (such as blood pressure) meet desired targets, resulting in unnecessary complications such as heart attacks and amputations. 

Things to do:

  • Understand and tackle risk factors. Find out if first degree relatives have any chronic health conditions – many may carry genetic risks that are passed down. Target your lifestyle aspects that may augment those risks, such as smoking, diet and exercise, stress, sleep and social support.
  • Screening tests. Find out relevant screening tests for your age (e.g. mammograms, Pap smear, stool tests, blood tests) or symptoms (e.g. diabetes survey, breath test, mental health survey). Be diligent in early detection and management.
  • Early and proactive prevention. Develop a health plan to mitigate the risks of chronic health conditions arising, or keeping diagnosed conditions stable. For example, early management of anxiety can reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks and overall lifetime burden.
  • Regular review. Frequent monitoring based on health status and risks, can result in better health outcomes. For example, regular sugar monitoring and checking feets, eyes, kidneys, along with medication review, can reduce the heart attack and amputation rates in patients with diabetes.
  • Connect with others. Patient mentors, which are other patients who share in their health journey and provide encouragement and support, can improve your understanding of your health condition, provide more skills to self-manage and result in better health outcomes.

References:

  1. One in Four Lives Report
  2. Medical Journal of Australia: CareTrack study 2012
  3. Australian Diabetes Care Project, Federal Health Department
  4. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/8f7bd3d6-9e69-40c1-b7a8-40dca09a13bf/4_2-chronic-disease.pdf.aspx
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1019687531040