Leading global health and wellness benefits provider Aetna International has released a paper Bespoke health promotion: How personalisation is transforming health, which examines the importance of bringing together health and lifestyle data with advances in genetic profiling and technology to help tackle the rising global disease burden. The organisation believes the future of health care lies in the worldwide adoption of a more predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory approach to health; one that enables people to be more actively involved in their own health and well-being.
- 40 percent of premature deaths are the result of individual behaviour, with obesity and smoking as the leading causes of death.
- Genetic predisposition and social circumstances are also important factors.
- Advances in science and technology can help curb the rate of premature deaths, by predicting and preventing health episodes before they happen.
- Aetna International explores a holistic approach to individual health, partnering technology with expertise from health care professionals.
Global increases in lifestyle-related diseases are placing significant strains on health systems around the world. An increase in chronic diseases, coupled with the fact that people are living longer, is resulting in the need for more expensive and longer-term treatment. Recent research has shown that 40 percent of premature deaths are the result of individual behaviour, with obesity and smoking leading the way; other contributing factors are social circumstances like poverty and genetic predisposition. Although genetics are a lesser factor than scientists once thought, they, along with individual behaviour, must be taken into consideration when determining the best approach to reducing the rising global disease epidemic.
Aetna International maintains that the examination of both sets of an individual’s data - their unique biological identity and their lifestyle behaviours - can help to provide insight into their future health. Such insights can be used by health professions to empower individuals to make appropriate health and medical decisions. However, Aetna warns that whilst results can be enlightening, a genetic pre-disposition for developing a certain disease is also no guarantee that the disease will ever develop.
Caroline Pain, Senior Vice President, Customer Proposition, Aetna International says: “We are extremely interested in the potential to use genomic data as part of an overall appraisal of a person’s health status. That way, we can work with them to agree the best care pathway and hopefully prevent the onset of inflammation or disease. A critical step in determining the best treatment is an holistic view of the patient - their symptoms, family history, circumstances and biomarkers – combined with expert guidance from a geneticist and the provision of genetic counselling for the patient. Technology such as wearables can also support a pre-emptive health approach by helping individuals make healthy choices. However, it is important to recognise that while some individuals will respond to a chat bot, others will respond better to social and physical intervention.”
The organisation argues that delivering hyper-personalised health journeys will help to increase healthy outcomes at an individual level and will make disease care radically more cost-effective at a population level.
“It’s important to meet people where they are. If we are to engage people in their journey to better health, we need to make health care more personal, more local and more integrated into the technology they use every day. If we can meet people where they are, and if we can offer health care that is tailored to them, the chances are high that they can live longer and healthier lives,” concludes Caroline.
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