As a science organisation, a lot of our day to day efforts are expended in hunting for provable medical improvements that pharmaceuticals can deliver. But our experience is that the treatments themselves are just a part of the answer. The overall organisation of healthcare that wraps around patients is often complicated and can sometimes loses track what people need.
When we launched our Sustainable Healthcare Initiative in 2015 it was our attempt to go beyond medicines and explore the other aspects of healthcare that truly matter to people. We wanted to look at the things that can’t always be easily measured and do our bit to connect and nurture the best ideas that put people using the services at its heart. We believe starting there can play a major role in making everything in healthcare work more smoothly and sustainably.
We have settled on two areas where our experience tells us there is a big opportunity and that no one has yet cracked.
Me myself and I
Being diagnosed with a long term health problem that will be part of who you are, have a label and a course to follow, is hard. If that experience comes with pain, with embarrassment and with limits on the things you want to do, it can also be demoralising.
We all know someone who handles chronic illness as part of daily life. From older relatives with multiple conditions and multiple treatments to track, to the otherwise healthy parent whose joint problems leave them struggling to pick up their kids, to the young person who has had to live as long as they can remember with fatigue and pain none of their friends feel. Losing hope, feeling out of control can, at best, lead to fatalistic attitudes to your healthcare and at worst serious mental health problems like depression.
Helping people feel in control, know the warning signs their body is giving them and confidence to direct their own treatment means better quality of life, supports better medical decisions and overall fewer visits to the doctors. There are proven things that health services can do that help more people feel that confidence, but they can be difficult to do in practice and prove the value. Supporting self-management is something AbbVie feels passionate about and comes
across every day across the organisation.
For lots of conditions getting specialist treatment early is key to getting people on right track. The problem is, in increasingly difficult times for funding, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the pressure to roll back intervening so that it is only as a last resort. Some people also put their own blinkers to the signs they have a health problem and don’t show up early enough.
The problem with a rationing mindset is that it can cost more in human and financial terms in the long run. There are tricky decisions to be made on where acting quickly with the right professional support is the right thing to do rather than adopting a waiting list approach. We are working to find ways that get people the help they need when they need it without overburdening the system, and build the evidence to make those decisions easier.