The Booz & Company/Bertelsmann Foundation study evaluated the direct productivity benefits from improving adherence to medical therapy, drawing upon data for five chronic diseases - depression, chronic back pain, asthma, hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis. Key findings from this research include:
Unfortunately, employers - the stakeholders that would benefit the most from these improvements - actually have the least influence on adherence. Employers and policy makers alike have much to gain from investing in therapy adherence but have few ready-made tools to intervene. Similarly, for health service providers, investing in therapy adherence is unattractive in the current system as the focus and financial incentives are on diagnosis and treatment selection, rather than therapy follow-through.
"The core problem is the lack of coherence between therapy and the world of employment,” says Tobias Handschuh, healthcare expert at Booz & Company. “All stakeholders need to work together to find the optimal solution. Therapy adherence strategies improve patients’ health, but can also achieve significant cost savings in the health care system and productivity gains in the economy.”
Booz & Company identified four levers that can overcome barriers to adherence:
Now is the time to make changes. The baby boomer generation are reaching retirement age and, as a result, the labour market will tighten and wage inflation could become more prevalent. Both in the industrialised world and in emerging economies, life spans are increasing. These positive developments, however, are accompanied by a rising prevalence of the chronic diseases associated with aging. Successful approaches to improve adherence have been shown to work on a small scale, but it is the responsibility of the employers, policymakers, insurers and healthcare providers to roll out these measures on a large scale to the benefit of themselves and, more importantly, their patients.
To view the study, “Unleashing the Power of Therapy Adherence: High-Leverage Changes in Patient Behavior for Improved Health and Productivity”, in full (including methodology), follow this link: