"Trends" is a big buzzword in healthcare. As such, I can’t help but notice a trend of my own. Yes, it is Easter, and yes, instead of Easter brunch with the family, I am hunkered down on the couch, nursing a fever and infection.
Let’s review: Thanksgiving (freak infection spread to my jaw; dinner was consumed via straw); Christmas (nursed a cold but unlike many Christmases, wasn’t in the hospital); New Year’s (very serious infection that felled me for weeks). On the bright side, at least I haven’t had to worry about the traditional holiday food hangover the past several holidays.
There really isn’t more to rehash about this trend of mine except that it broke my 11-day streak of being infection-free, a personal record since early October. So instead, I’ll turn this idea of chronic disease trends outwards.
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and the Milken Institute released a new study that puts the annual cost of seven common chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions and mental illness) at $1.3 trillion.
Of that amount, a staggering $1.1 trillion is the result of lost productivity. Since I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to meet deadlines when I am sick, I can’t help but focus on this particular statistic about work, productivity, and illness. Since we live in an age where economics, healthcare, and quality of life are increasingly linked together and increasingly strained, I can’t help but focus on this study as a whole.
Sobering information? Definitely. But there’s a bigger message in these results, a positive one: most of this economic impact is avoidable through effective disease prevention.
In fact, according to an article on the PFCD’s site, “The study is the first of its kind to estimate the avoidable costs if a serious effort were made to improve Americans' health. Assuming modest improvements in preventing and treating disease, Milken Institute researchers determined that by 2023 the nation could avoid 40 million cases of chronic disease and reduce the economic impact of chronic disease by 27 percent, or $1.1 trillion annually. They report that the most important factor is obesity, which if rates declined could lead to $60 billion less in treatment costs and $254 billion in increased productivity.”
There’s reason to hope this trend doesn’t have to continue.
(And with winter almost behind us, there’s reason to hope my own trend won’t continue, either. After all, my track record for July 4 is practically spotless!)