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.
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
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.