Prevention can prevent thousands of hospital admissions and relieve strained healthcare system
09.05.2023 - A recent analysis conducted by the Danish Medical Association reveals that thousands of hospital admissions can be prevented by implementing 25 different preventative measures. Among these measures, initiatives against smoking could prevent more than 50,000 hospitalizations annually. The President of the Medical Association is urging the government to take immediate action to relieve the burden on the already strained healthcare system.
Denmark's healthcare system is currently under immense pressure. Widespread labor shortages and an aging population with increasing needs for medical care will inevitably lead to busier schedules, more doctor visits, and more hospitalizations in the coming years. As a result, there is a pressing need for effective measures that can prevent the pressure from becoming overwhelming. The new analysis conducted by the Medical Association provides figures on 25 different preventative measures and their potential to reduce the number of hospitalizations.
"We need to put the pedal to the metal on prevention efforts that benefit public health and relieve the healthcare system. Fortunately, our new analysis shows that there is enormous potential to prevent many thousands of hospitalizations in the Danish healthcare system in both the short and long term. This is good for the healthcare system, as it relieves pressure and frees up labor - so it cannot happen soon enough to launch more initiatives aimed at preventing hospitalizations," says Camilla Noelle Rathcke, President of the Medical Association.
The analysis is based on 25 different preventative measures and examines the expected time frame for when the measures will take effect, how significant their impact will be, and for several of the initiatives, how many hospitalizations they can prevent.
For example, enhanced medication reviews can prevent around 15,000 hospitalizations in the short term, while long-term initiatives against tobacco, such as higher prices and interdisciplinary efforts against smoking in elementary schools and youth education programs, can prevent more than 50,000 hospitalizations per year.
"There is no quick fix to the many challenges facing the healthcare system - but now we are putting numbers on how incredibly many hospitalizations can actually be prevented in the future with the right measures," says Camilla Noelle Rathcke.
Recently, two reports on the burden of disease in Denmark revealed a startling picture of how selected diseases and risk factors affect society, the healthcare system, and citizens. For instance, the reports showed that there are almost 16,000 tobacco-related and nearly 2,500 alcohol-related deaths per year in Denmark. Additionally, they highlighted how other public health issues, such as depression and musculoskeletal disorders, significantly burden both individuals and the healthcare system.
"These are catastrophically high numbers, and they have significant consequences for both the individual patient and society as a whole. Our new analysis provides concrete figures on what can be done to curb disease and thus prevent more hospitalizations. I urge the government to take action now so that more people can avoid preventable illness and the pressure on the healthcare system is reduced," says Camilla Noelle Rathcke.
The report also reviews several forms of prevention where it is not possible to calculate the exact potential, but instead provides an estimate. These include higher alcohol prices, raising the legal purchasing age to 18, and phasing out alcohol from youth education programs. Other potential initiatives include combating childhood and adolescent obesity, supporting children and young people with mental health issues, and tackling pollution in large cities.
When combining the estimated potential of these measures, the Medical Association also estimates that tens of thousands of hospitalizations can be prevented.
"The common denominator is that it all comes down to our lifestyle. Although it is more difficult to pinpoint the specific potential, it is substantial if we generally become better at preventing actual disease in the long run," says Camilla Rathcke.
Source: Danish Medical Association
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