- Targeted use of complementary medicines significantly reduces risk of disease-related events, hospitalisation costs and productivity losses
SYDNEY, Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Escalating healthcare costs associated with the increasing burden of disease in Australia is a major challenge for government, private health insurers and individuals. Thus, there is growing pressure to find solutions to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare expenditures. One available option is to motivate at-risk individuals to adopt a regimen that aims to reduce the risk of costly events associated with major chronic disease in terms of hospital separations and lost wage income due to illness. Use of complementary medicines among well-defined, high-risk populations can help decrease the occurrence of disease-attributed medical events and associated economic consequences.
Frost & Sullivan's recent economic analysis, Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Outcomes & Cost Savings in Australia, assesses the relationship between use of complementary medicines and potential healthcare cost savings and productivity gains. The research shows that notable net benefits can be realised through targeted use of certain scientifically substantiated complementary medicine regimens among high-risk individuals, such as calcium and vitamin D or magnesium for osteoporosis, omega-3, folic acid, B6 and B12, for cardiovascular disease (CVD), lutein and zeaxanthin for age-related eye disease, and St. John's wort for moderate major depression.
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"A less-than-healthy society leads to an increase in medical service expenditure and a loss in labour productivity. This means less tax revenue for Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and increased healthcare costs; in other words, a less-than-healthy economy," said Frost & Sullivan Global Program Director for the Chemicals, Materials and Food Practice, Christopher Shanahan.
For example, more than $1.6 billion in healthcare cost savings and wage income gains can be realized in 2015 if all women over the age of 50 with osteoporosis or osteopenia were to use calcium and vitamin D. Additionally, by targeting all Australians over the age of 55 with diagnosed CVD, the study found that after using an omega-3 regimen, a potential net benefit yield of nearly $490 million in net cost savings and productivity gains in 2015 is realisable. Also, a St. John's wort intervention could save $256 million in wage income gains in 2015 if all adults aged 20 and over used this regimen at preventive intake levels.
"Determining the cost-effectiveness of using certain complementary medicines requires that many factors be considered such as which disease events are preventable, the efficacy of the complementary medicine under review, and consequently, the relative cost, before an informed decision can be made," observed Shanahan. "However, once the link between the use of certain complementary medicines with scientifically-substantiated health potential and economic benefit is better understood, the decision to use the complementary medicine will be easier to make."
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