Hospital-acquired infections and drug-resistant superbugs are some of the biggest concerns in healthcare right now. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, more people will die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria than from cancer (2016). Furthermore, many of the diseases that cause people to be in the hospital in the first place, are preventable, such as heart disease and diabetes. This means that people are needlessly going to hospitals and subsequently risk being exposed to harmful infections. This is one of the reasons why a main priority right now in healthcare is shifting towards prevention and keeping people out of hospitals in the first place.
According to Nancy Brown, from the American Heart Association, “many of the things that bring people to the hospital can be prevented” (2019). In fact, during the World Economic Forum on the Future of Hospitals, which featured Brown as a speaker, it was discussed how 80% of health does not happen at the hospital, but rather, it happens at home, where individuals should consciously be making better decisions to be healthier.
Education about health should be a key priority for governments, hospitals and medical professionals, as it will reduce healthcare costs, prevent risks and occurrences of serious illnesses, and just make people more healthy in general. Brown stated that the way to doing this is to change people’s behaviours, either by inspiration, advocacy or even regulation. She also identified two key factors that are critical in influencing people’s unhealthy habits: environment and lifestyle. To quote her again,
“If you don’t have access to fresh foods, and the only thing you can have is processed and packaged food which is high in sodium and high in added sugar, why are we surprised that there’s an epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes?”Nancy Brown, American Heart Association, 2019
Brown provides very interesting information about prevention, which is becoming more and more important in healthcare. According to Regina Benjamin, MD, it is crucial that disease prevention be intertwined into every aspect of our every day lives.
Benjamin lists 4 keys areas to improve in order to better prevent diseases:
- Healthy and safe community environments
- Clinical and community preventive services
- Empowered people
- Elimination of health disparities
People have the ability to prevent many diseases. With a good education about health, people can become more knowledgeable about how to take care of themselves and what diseases they are more prone to. This will lead to fewer hospitalizations and healthier people with a better quality of life. That is why this trend in healthcare is so important and it is great thing to move towards.
To watch the World Economic Forum discussion of The Future of Hospitals, see the video below: