OTTAWA, June 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian productivity would grow
substantially, and people living with either Type 2 diabetes or
depression would have better health outcomes, if they were treated by a
team of health care professionals rather than solo practitioners;
according to a new Conference Board of Canada study.
Currently less than half of patients with either of these two conditions
receive treatment from teams of health and social service providers who
are working together in interprofessional primary care (IPC) teams. An
IPC team is a group of primary health care professionals from different
disciplines who formally work together - traditional examples include
family health clinics and community health centres.
The report, Improving Primary Health Care Through Collaboration: Briefing
3—Measuring the Missed Opportunity, shows that treating more patients in health care teams would reduce
medical complications and deaths from Type 2 diabetes. In addition,
teams would reduce the total loss of productivity attributed to
depression by an estimated eight per cent - enabling thousands of
workers to join or rejoin the workforce. The overall gains to
productivity would add billions of dollars to the Canadian economy.
"Chronic conditions are emerging as one of the great health challenges
for Canadians. These long-term conditions can be better managed in
interdisciplinary primary care teams than in acute care hospitals,"
said Thy Dinh, Senior Research Associate, Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health
Care. "With health and social services providers working together,
interprofessional primary care teams have the potential to be the
standard model of care for patients with chronic conditions."
Only 38 per cent of patients with Type 2 diabetes and 44 per cent of
individuals with depression had access to interdisciplinary primary
care teams in 2008.
If all Type 2 diabetes patients were cared for by interprofessional
primary care teams, about 9,000 complications could be reduced and
2,000 deaths prevented.
If the percentage of depressed individuals under the care of teams rose
from 44 per cent to 100 per cent, the size of the labour force would
grow by the equivalent of 52,000 full-time workers.
If all Canadian Type 2 diabetes and depression patients were treated in
teams, the increased productivity would add about $3 billion annually
to the Canadian economy.
The research determined that IPC teams appeared to be most effective at
managing the clinical outcomes of Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes and
symptoms of depression in adults.
Prevalence of both conditions is rising in Canada. In 2011, there were
an estimated 1.6 million Type 2 diabetes cases and an estimated two
million depression cases. A 2012, the Conference Board report estimated
that mental health cost $20.7 billion annually.
For adults with Type 2 diabetes, other research has indicated that
primary care teams surpassed solo practitioners in controlling blood
glucose, bad (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure - which, in turn,
lowered complications such as strokes, heart attacks and other
conditions (up to and including death).
For depression patients, teams were shown to help control symptoms
better than primary care physicians working in solo practices.
If the percentage of Type 2 diabetes patients under the care of teams
rose from 38 per cent to 100 per cent, an estimated $657 million in
costs could be reduced annually. This includes $263 million in direct
costs due to fewer complications such as strokes and heart attacks, and
$394 million in indirect costs (generally associated with loss of
current and future income). Even if 100 per cent coverage of patients
is unrealistic, savings can still be generated by incrementally
increasing the share of patients covered by teams. For example, each
percentage point of Type 2 diabetes patients that receives care in
teams could reduce direct health costs by $4 million annually.
For depression conditions, the benefits are mostly to society measured
in terms of increased economic activity - largely in the form of an
expanded labour force. If the percentage of depressed individuals under
the care of teams rose from 44 per cent to 100 per cent, the size of
the labour force would grow by the equivalent of 52,000 full-time
workers. And every percentage-point-increase in the share of depression
patients cared for by teams would save approximately $40 million in
indirect costs to the economy per year.
The report only measures the potential benefits of employing IPC teams
in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and depression. As other conditions
are likely to see improvements in treatment, the briefing's cost
savings estimates may be considered conservative.
The Improving Primary Health Care Through Collaboration report series is part of the research program of the Conference Board's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). Launched in 2011, CASHC is a five-year Conference Board program of
research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada's
health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and
institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking
qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system
View video commentary about this topic at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD4d-t7KB9Y&feature=youtu.be.
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada
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