Global Health Report Finds Wide Variety in Rates of Diagnosis and Treatment

Laura Joszt

While the United States typically ranked first in rates of diagnosed conditions among 10 countries evaluated for patient insights into pressing health issues, it had the lowest work productivity impairment and activity impairment, according to a new report from Kantar Health.
The Global Health and Wellness Report provides insight into nearly 200 health conditions in the United States, Japan, the EU5 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom), and 3 emerging markets (Brazil, China, and Russia). In comparing the countries, the report found that rates of diagnosis and treatment varied greatly, with levels of diagnosis remaining low in some countries and the proportion of the population left untreated high in others.
"While the 2017 report indicates that progress has been made in patient care, there's more work to be done to improve the lives of people suffering with various conditions, as across geographies the rates of diagnosis and treatment vary widely and demonstrate much room for improvement,” Michael Fronstin, general manager of Health Outcomes, Forecasting and Epidemiology at Kantar Health, said in a statement.
The United States spent the most money on healthcare as a percentage of gross domestic product and has the highest rate of nonsmokers and people who exercise, but its longevity ranked seventh among the countries studied. The fact that the country is heavily reliant on cars and has a high rate of people whose diets have a high level of processed foods has contributed to the increasing obesity rate, which results in related diseases that can cause early death.
In 2016, 62.5% of Americans were diagnosed with a preexisting condition, but not all physicians are aware their patients have a preexisting condition. According to the report, there is an 18% gap between those patients officially diagnosed (62.5%) and those actually experiencing a condition (80%). Furthermore, 41% of people with preexisting conditions report having resorted to cost-saving measures. To offset the cost of prescription medicines, adults cut tablets in half, take less of a medication than prescribed, and buy fewer pills than directed. In addition, the report found that one-third of Americans would prefer to treat a condition with an over-the-counter medicine rather than going to a doctor for a prescription medicine.
In comparison to the United States, where metabolic conditions—high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, thyroid condition, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes—affect 57% of the population, the rest of the world has a much lower rate of metabolic conditions, ranging from just 27% in Japan to 46% among all the EU5 countries.
The United States also has the highest percentage of residents diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, cancer, and musculoskeletal conditions, and is second in the percentage of people with cardiovascular, pain, and urological conditions. However, the report found it has the lowest work productivity impairment and activity impairment across all conditions.
"Undoubtedly there are areas to improve across the 10 countries evaluated, as levels of diagnosis remain low in some countries, untreated populations are high in others, and societal stigmas are preventing many sufferers from seeking medical care," said Fronstin. "However, these factors present opportunities to drive awareness in these undiagnosed and/or untreated populations – such as encouraging patients who are experiencing conditions to seek treatment and educating physicians about the unintended humanistic and economic consequences of not diagnosing or treating appropriately."
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