Experts are calling for reforms and a rethink of healthcare. In particular, prevention should be strengthened and financed.
Alpbach (OTS) – Around 22% of the over-65s in Austria need care. For comparison: Denmark, which has a qualitatively comparable health care system and also invests about the same amount per capita in the health of the population, has only about 8% of people in need of care in this age group. How and with which measures the need for care can be reduced, explained Dr. Barbara Fisa, managing director “The Healthy Choice”, and Dr. Alexander Biach, director deputy of the chamber of economics Vienna, in their initial keynotes to the two PRAEVENIRE Talks “Best Agers Bonus Pass” and “prevention, programs, primary care” at the beginning of the PRAEVENIRE health discussions Alpbach 2022.
Best Agers Bonus Pass
The health of a person is essentially determined by five factors, explained Fisa. Among them, the environment accounts for 5%, medical care for 10%, social factors for 15%, genes for 30% and lifestyle for 40%. The relevant lifestyle factors are essentially exercise, nutrition and mental attentiveness. In this context, exercise is of great importance, as it can contribute significantly to the improvement or prevention of the most common chronic diseases in old age.
Building on the book “Raus aus der Pflegefalle” (Get out of the Care Trap) published the previous year, for which Fisa was one of the authors, the idea of the Best Agers Bonus Pass was developed. Similar to the health package created for the beginning of life with the Mother-Child Pass, the Best Agers Bonus Pass aims to create a healthy lifestyle offer for people 50 and older. Starting with an assessment based on the medical and non-medical status quo of the respective participant, individual target agreements are made to improve the health situation. The goals are monitored or digitally recorded. If the set goal is reached, bonus points are awarded, which can be individually converted back into useful benefits. “Through the use of the Best Agers Bonus Pass, there is both an economic benefit through a postponement or reduction of outpatient and inpatient illness and care costs, as well as an individual one, through the preservation of independence and social participation in society,” Fisa describes. A pilot project for Vienna, Linz and Ried im Innkreis is currently being worked on together with the Vinzenz Group, which will also be scientifically monitored. In Austria in particular, the playful approach of collecting bonus points is quite motivating, as examples from the social insurance sector have shown. A general problem of prevention in Austria is that there is no financial responsibility for it, according to the opinion of the experts in the subsequent panel discussion.
PPP – the 3 trends in healthcare
“We love to age – no matter what. We love hospitals. We love repair medicine,” Alexander Biach postulated at the beginning of his keynote. This, he said, leads to high costs in the healthcare system but also to significantly fewer healthy years of life. According to Biach, the three lifestyle factors mentioned by Barbara Fisa – nutrition, mental health and exercise – are responsible for one third of all cases of long-term care. Around 60 percent of the world’s population now fails to meet the WHO recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. Therefore, he said, a rethinking of society as a whole is needed, as well as bold approaches in the health sector. “We have to learn to love prevention,” Biach explained. This requires motivation and reminders. A good example of how this could work, he said, is the Best Agers Bonus Pass. Whereby prevention – the first “P” in his presentation – must start in childhood and, for example with an extension of the mother-child pass, run seamlessly throughout life – in line with the motto “Maintain and improve health.”
Digital health applications – programs, the second “P” – are an essential building block in modern healthcare. Austria also still has “room to grow” in the use of smart health devices. According to a 2020 survey, just 8% of the population uses them, which is above the EU average of 5%, but still well below the European leaders such as Iceland (20%) or Denmark (12%). Germany is taking an exemplary approach to accelerating the spread of digital health applications (DiGA). There is a relatively unbureaucratic, clearly defined path for providers to launch their applications on the market, provided they meet certain requirements. After a trial and review phase, they quickly receive a decision as to whether or not the application will be reimbursed. To avoid falling behind technically here, Biach said Austria should use its expertise and initiatives in Austria, quickly create transparent processes and a legal basis for app developers. Finally, DiGAs could also improve the area of prevention.
A central key element of healthcare, where the two aforementioned “P “s also converge, are the primary care units. Austria has set itself the goal of opening 75 primary care units by 2023 – the current figure is 36. These multiprofessional centers enable patients to receive comprehensive, low-threshold care close to home. According to Biach, these are the future of care.
Rainald noble, MBA
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