DMC Live: World Health Systems Under Pressure

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Guest Blogger: Patricia Donovan

Note: This week, HIN reports live from the Disease Management Congress in Orlando, Florida.

Orlando — An aging population that is driving healthcare spending to new levels and impacting worker productivity and the gross national product is not a concern unique to the United States. That’s why representatives from nine countries have gathered at the first annual International Disease Management Summit to share strategies for implementing disease management programs worldwide.

“There is lots of confusion around the world between the prevention of disease (wellness), and true disease management,” said Warren E. Todd, the executive director of the International Disease Management Alliance (IDMA), which is sponsoring the summit. “But the dual world crisis of chronic disease and obesity is forcing countries around the world to investigate the benefits of disease management.”

Despite the positive impact disease management has had on ROI in the United States, the variety of healthcare programs, differences between physician- and patient-centric programs and the confusion between wellness and disease management worldwide has made many countries resistant to the idea of disease management, he continued.

Four factors that determine a country’s receptiveness to disease management are that country’s political agenda, healthcare market, IT maturity and readiness to accept the concept of disease management, according to Simone Christiane Seiter, MD, of Germany who is leading a CapGemini-sponsored effort to increase awareness of disease management. “Some regions of a country that are autonomous may be better prepared than the country as a whole,” she stated.

Based on these factors, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden have been designated “fast movers,” she said. In England, the National Health Service has launched several pilot initiatives that test the efficacy of pay for performance and quality improvement efforts. “The results have not been very well publicized, but there has been a lot of work in this area,” according to Dr. Rick Botelho, who has conducted training for UK-based doctors. Dr. Botelho, a frequent speaker on the effect of behavior modification in disease management, has presented at several Healthcare Intelligence Network-sponsored audio conferences.

Because the European Union has ruled that it is up to individual member countries to regulate healthcare, the idea of a union-wide program is a long way off, said Dr. Seiter. “But we hope to introduce the idea of a healthcare card that can be used in several countries to access patient healthcare information.”

“There is also the NIH—Not Invented Here—syndrome that exists in Europe,” contributed one participant. European countries are often skeptical of concepts developed outside their country.

During the daylong summit, which is co-located with the 10th annual Disease Management Congress, participants will share how they have adapted and expanded upon successful DM models to address the unique needs of their countries.

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